How to Change the Game of Security Cooperation : The Case of the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership

The challenges of a polycentric world necessitate new ways of addressing global problems. Of late, strategic partnerships have become prominent features in the foreign profiles of international actors. They can be seen as a practice of cooperation, and can be further broken down to patterned actions, such as diplomacy and summitry. These practices feature prominently in the ASEAN-China strategic partnership for two reasons. First, diplomacy has proven to be pivotal in both the securitization and the desecuritization of the South China Sea maritime dispute. Second, summitry is the foundation of the ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations, which was formally established in 1996, and on which the strategic partnership is built. Looking at the ASEAN-China strategic partnership from the perspective of practice theory can then identify the constitutive effects of practices on regional cooperation. This effectively moves the discussion about strategic partnerships from what they are to how they operate in international relations. The practices of diplomacy and summitry in ASEAN-China relations can then be argued as the key forces behind regional cooperation.

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