China’s Responses to the US-Led Security Network: Coercion and Alternatives to ‘Non-Alignment’

Kihyun Lee, Jae Jeok Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years China has forged an increasing number of strategic partnerships with other countries while maintaining its ‘non-alignment policy’. However, these partnerships are mainly bilateral rather than minilateral, and they thus have less potential to influence the Indo–Pacific regional order. This article examines how China has responded to the US-led security network, in which minilateralism features prominently, and argues that China has implemented a coercion strategy against India and Australia, who are two of the main regional hubs for minilateral security cooperation within that network. It also illustrates how China began to articulate the concept of ‘natural alliance forces’ (tianran tongmeng jun) in 2018, and that Beijing has subsequently expanded its own minilateral security cooperation and Chinese-style multilateralism. These initiatives share some of the characteristics of minilateralism and are seen by China as alternatives to non-alignment, even though they are not necessarily direct responses or reactions to US-led minilateral security cooperation. Instead, they indicate that China hopes to exert some influence on the regional order through the alignment of like-minded countries vis-à-vis the US-led network. The article concludes by identifying the limitations China faces in leading both minilateral and multilateral security cooperation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAsian Studies Review
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Asian Studies Association of Australia.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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