China, the ARF, and the South China Sea: Is China Being Socialized?

By Lincoln Hines

Abstract: In the past, scholars have drawn optimistic conclusions about the ASEAN Regional Forum’s (ARF) ability to socialize China into a system of peaceful norms. However, China’s renewed assertiveness in the South China Sea calls into question much of this earlier optimism. In response to China’s behavior, ARF members have applied normative pressure on China by criticizing China in the ARF and related fora. In light of these recent developments one might believe that the ARF is socializing China. This paper argues that China has internalized ARF norms at an uneven pace, resulting in apparently erratic behavior. In addition, China views the ARF as an important institution both normatively and instrumentally. Consequently, China is responsive to normative pressure from ARF member countries.

About the Author
Lincoln Hines earned an MA in International Affairs at the American University’s School of International Service and a BA from the University of Virginia in Foreign Affairs and East Asian studies. He is currently a David L. Boren National Security Fellow, researching Chinese foreign policy in the South China Sea and studying Mandarin Chinese at Peking University. Lincoln has also studied and lived in Vietnam, China, and Malaysia.

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