Research Achievements

GIARI & Political Integration and Identity

Research:Publications:Working Papers FY2011

Pre-Colonial Southeast Asia and the Tribute System II: Hegemon and Instability / Min Shu


GIARI Working Paper

Excellent papers on Asian regional integration, which are prepared mainly by young researchers such as GIARI members, co-researchers, research fellows, and research assistants, will be published as working papers. Contributed papers, written in English or in Japanese, will be reviewed and examined by the editorial committee before publication. GIARI donates published papers to the libraries of Waseda and other related universities, research organizations, etc.

GIARI Working Paper Vol. 2011-E-5


Pre-colonial Southeast Asia had long been an integral part of the China-centered tribute system. Yet, the hierarchical relationship between China and Southeast Asia has not been studied from the perspective of international relations. This article contributes to the literature by examining the hegemonic strategies that China had pursued in Southeast Asia. Based on the literature on hegemonic stability, China’s hegemonic influences are analyzed according to four theoretical angles: norm socialization, public-good provision, hegemonic coercion, and institution-building. Firstly, China’s self-perceived cultural state had not socialized the ‘Indianized’ states of Southeast Asia. Secondly, despite the vibrant commercial links that the China-centered tributary trade had created, it was not an economic order open to all Southeast Asian countries. Thirdly, the coercive campaigns of China had altered the power balance of mainland Southeast Asia beyond its control. Fourthly, the tribute system was sophisticated and long-lasting, but its institutional influences had not moved beyond the dynastic cycle of China’s imperial power. Although the hegemonic power of China was substantial, it had failed to bring long-term stability to pre-colonial Southeast Asia.