The Philippines as a small state: assessing its external behaviour and foreign policy in bilateral interactions with small states
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This study puts the spotlight on small states that has long been overlooked in the field of International Relations. The limited academic discussion is quite paradoxical, considering that the world is for the most part made up of small states. The few scholarly literature on small states has mostly focused on its definition and classification, vulnerabilities in the international system, or interactions with great powers, among others. This study therefore seeks to veer away from these themes and instead focus on the importance of small states, their power potential, and their engagement with fellow small states.
In particular, it examines the external behaviour of a small state towards its peers, and analyses the foreign policy that provides the rationale behind its behaviour. Essentially, its research questions shift focus away from the power disparity between small states and great or middle powers, towards the power dynamics between well-matched small states. Thus, this study addresses the following questions: How does a small state deal with its fellow small states amidst political conflicts or bilateral issues? What are the factors that shape its behaviour towards its counterparts? Why does a small state act ‘smaller’ or ‘weaker’ in relation to other small states? Or in some cases, why does it act ‘greater’ or stronger’ compared to its peers?
To answer these questions, this study features the Philippines as a small state since it shares common characteristics with others. It assesses it behaviour and policy, and evaluates whether it projected a weak or strong behaviour relative to other small states. In doing so, this paper presents case studies highlighting the Philippines’ interactions with Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Kuwait.
This study’s focus on the Philippines and its relations with other small states, is considered to be an interesting analysis on the power play between states of approximate material capabilities. It is hoped that such analysis will provide substantive insights for other small states in managing their external behaviours and in formulating their foreign policies. These insights aim to be utilized as pertinent preliminary guidelines in forecasting and rationalizing a small state’s behaviour, which can be considered in understanding other small states.