Quote Originally Posted by a completely inoffensive name View Post
To really explore the validity of my general argument we would need to go in depth on each country as I feel the bigger point is achieved from a multitude of reasons unique to each country. The countries you mention are indeed non very democratic, but there is the economic independence that China would also wish to subvert. As a brief an unsatisfying glimpse into what I mean, let's talk about "Communist Vietnam" which we both know is as Communist as China is at this point. Are we really to expect that the Vietnamese people are going to give up the independence their grandparents and even parents fought for all through the mid-late 20th century? I mean, it was only 40 years ago that China attempted to invade Vietnam. This isn't ancient history here. There is a lot of bad blood between China and its east Asian neighbors.
That's so true - and yet, things change. China was a hilarious backwater right up to the point they lost in Vietnam. Vietnam and the United States are on relatively good terms now, and we didn't - because we didn't? - even bomb them again. As you said, this demands a deep-dive for each country that is beyond my paygrade. From what I read in the first years of this decade, ASEAN countries had been assertive towards China, but after the Great Recession (and again when island building in the South China Sea began ~5 years ago) took on conciliatory tones and independently, including Vietnam, assumed a more cordial and submissive posture toward China. Not to the same extent and not all at once, but that's what I recall. More recently I see that this year, Vietnam made symbolic strides in expressing security partnership with India and the "Quadrilateral" group. Yet meanwhile, since 2000 Vietnam's trade with China has exploded from almost nothing to $30-50 billion (exports. though someone's official figures may be politicized), nearly $100 billion total, and could be set to push out the US as Vietnam's main trade partner sooner rather than later. What this timeline shows is that relations fluctuate depending on governments-in-power, global political and economic conditions, and a host of factors. You would certainly have to be careful to project resoluteness and autonomy well into the future, when Vietnam's fortunes could be fading or China's footholds expanding. Et cetera.

Together they stand, divided they fall, and China has lots of time and money to enhance division, while unity is not in great supply even in the best of times. If China asserts 'decisive hegemony' in the region, then all those individual reasons for independence are going to meet the writing on the wall. Eventually most countries in the region will have to decide between joining the Chinese bloc or the Indian bloc.That's my firm cash-money prediction: 50 bottle caps in 2050 (the pot would nominally be bigger, but has to be liquidated for transcontinental service charge).