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date: 17 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

No other region of the world exhibits the same activism among parties of three as contemporary Asia. The recent proliferation of trilateral groupings includes the US-Japan-Korea Trilateral; the US-Japan-Australia Security Dialogue (TSD); the US-Japan-India Strategic Dialogue; and the China-Korea-Japan Trilateral Summits and Secretariat. These trilaterals reflect the diversity of regime types and threat assessments in the region: concerns that multilateral groupings like the ASEAN Regional Forum will not provide tangible security benefits; deficiencies in the hub-and-spoke system of US bilateral alliances; and opportunities to caucus with like-minded states or hedge against shifting power dynamics without undermining multilateral community building. Asia’s new trilateralism is not likely to descend into competing blocs because of the calculations of major states. Ultimately, the trilateral game will require agility, a credible US economy and forward presence, and a continued desire by Beijing not to break with the regional vision of an East Asia Community.

Keywords: alliances, ASEAN Regional Forum, China-Japan-Korea trilateral, US-Japan-Australia trilateral, East Asia Summit, hedging, multilateralism, security dilemma, US-Japan-Korea trilateral, trilateral security dialogue

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