Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2018, Vol. 73 ›› Issue (10): 2014-2030.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201810014

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A social-network-based study on geo-relations in Southeast Asia

QIN Qi1,2(),WU Liang1,LI Fei1,CHENG Shengkui1(),ZHANG Dan1,CHEN Xiaopeng1,2   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2017-05-27 Online:2018-10-25 Published:2018-10-25
  • Supported by:
    Key Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, No.ZDRW-ZS-2016-6


In the context of globalization, geopolitical relationships should be considered under the general geo-structure. Traditional geopolitical factors such as security are still the indispensable drivers of global patterns. In this study, social network analysis was used to construct an analysis framework from the perspective of a geo-system. Using this framework, we investigated the holistic and structural characteristics of the geo-economic and geopolitical relationships in Southeast Asian geo-system, quantified the power and reliance degrees of each country in terms of geo-economics and geopolitics (security), and also explored the potential mechanisms of security reliance. The results show that: (1) Since the end of the Cold War, the United States (US) replaced Japan as the country that exerted the strongest geo-economic influence on Southeast Asian countries, and then was supplanted by China. In terms of geopolitics, the United States is the most influential country over Southeast Asia. Although China has taken the second seat since 2005, its geopolitical influence is still far behind that of the US. Overall, from a geo-economic perspective, Southeast Asian countries seem to be more dependent on China than on other countries, while geopolitically (i.e., security) they rely mostly on the US and its traditional allies, including the United Kingdom, France and Germany. There is enough evidence to support the well-known adage that "Southeast Asia relies on China in economy, but on US in security". (2) Differences in national power are the essential drivers of security reliance. The specific direction of security reliance is primarily controlled by the geographic distance between countries. In addition, differences in political geographic traits are also essential factors that shape security reliance.

Key words: geo-relations, geo-system, mechanism of security reliance, social network analysis, Southeast Asia