Today, many Indo-Pacific countries are affected not only by the continuous political tension between the US and China but also by other risks such as food security and energy shortage due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These situations lead those countries to make politically sensitive decisions. How do the developing countries as JICA’s partners, in particular Indo-Pacific countries, observe and choose bigger countries to be their partner, and approach them?
From the perspective of the traditional donor community, it is assumed that the relationships between great powers and smaller states are dominated by the former, leaving virtually no room for the latter to manoeuvre. For instance, the “debt trap” argument presupposes that smaller states are the powerless victims of China’s neo-colonialist diplomacy. Bilateral relations should be understood as the ongoing dynamic, complex and multifaceted nature of the relationship. Moreover, it is the result of an agglomeration of a two-way push and pull between diverse actors from two countries.
This study aims to examine the dynamics of the relationship between China and smaller states in the Indo-Pacific region, with a particular focus on the agency of the smaller states. The countries of case studies are the Philippines, Laos, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, Serbia, and Zambia.
This research project targets to present the overall result as a special issue in a journal of international influence as well as a book in Japanese.