|Hedging in Non-Traditional Security: The Case of Vietnam's Disaster Response Cooperation
|Kuik, Cheng Chwee
|Oxford University Press
|Chinese Journal of International Politics
Although much has been written on hedging in traditional security, few studies have focused on hedging in the non-traditional security (NTS) domains. This essay examines NTS hedging through the case of Vietnam's disaster response cooperation with the USA and with China. "Hedging"is insurance-seeking behaviour, characterised by avoidance of irrevocable commitment, adoption of impartial and inclusive diversification, and the pursuit of prudent contradictions - all aimed at offsetting risks and cultivating a fallback position. We argue that it is Vietnam's elite-defined strategic considerations and functional needs amid uncertainty that both drive and constrain its hedging approach to disaster management cooperation with the competing powers - China and the USA. While not fully aligning with either power, Vietnam has sought closer cooperation with both, with different objectives in mind: engaging China to maintain a good relationship, while engaging the USA to enhance its capabilities. The net result is cooperation that is symbolic in posture and selective in practice, which serves the substantive purposes of mitigating risks while acquiring concrete gains. In the world of hedging, symbolism is substance.
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