Associate Professor Dr. Kuik Cheng-Chwee

Google Scholar h-index: 11
Citations: 834

Head, Centre for Asian Studies (iKAS),
Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS),
National University of Malaysia (UKM),
43600 Bangi, Malaysia.

Nonresident Fellow, SAIS Foreign Policy Institute,
Johns Hopkins University


Ext: 3662
Email: (preferred)
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)
43600 Bangi, Selangor Darul Ehsan, MALAYSIA ¦


BPA (UUM), M.Litt. (St. Andrews), PhD (Johns Hopkins)


Area of study:
International Relations


Brief Profile:
Dr. Kuik Cheng-Chwee is an Associate Professor and Head of the Centre for Asian Studies at the National University of Malaysia (UKM)’s Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), and concurrently a Nonresident Fellow at Johns Hopkins Foreign Policy Institute (FPI). He is co-founder of the East Asian International Relations (EAIR) Caucus, a research platform for exchange, engagement, and empowerment among foreign affairs professionals in Malaysia. He served as Head of the Writing Team for the Government of Malaysia’s inaugural Defence White Paper (2020). Previously he was a postdoctoral research associate at the Princeton-Harvard “China and the World” Program (CWP) and a visiting research fellow at Oxford’s Department of Politics and International Relations. Dr. Kuik’s research concentrates on weaker states’ foreign policy behavior, regional multilateralism, East Asian security, China-ASEAN relations, and Malaysia’s external policy. His publications have appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as Journal of Contemporary ChinaContemporary Southeast AsiaChinese Journal of International PoliticsAsian SecurityChina: An International JournalAsian Politics and PolicyEast Asian PolicyShijie Jingji yu Zhengzhi, as well as edited books. He is co-author (with David M. Lampton and Selina Ho) of Rivers of Iron: Railroads and Chinese Power in Southeast Asia (University of California Press, October 2020), and co-editor (with Alice Ba and Sueo Sudo) of Institutionalizing East Asia: Mapping and Reconfiguring Regional Cooperation (Routledge 2016). Dr. Kuik’s essay, “The Essence of Hedging” was awarded the biennial 2009 Michael Leifer Memorial Prize by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies for the best article published in any of the three ISEAS journals. Cheng-Chwee is a regular invited speaker to international conferences and closed-door policy roundtables. His current projects include: hedging in international relations, geopolitics of infrastructure connectivity cooperation in Asia, and domestic sources of Southeast Asian states’ BRI engagement. Kuik serves on the editorial boards/committee of Contemporary Southeast AsiaAustralian Journal of International Affairs, Asian Politics and Policy, Asian Perspective, and Routledge’s “IR Theory and Practice in Asia” Book Series. He holds an M.Litt. from the University of St. Andrews, and a PhD from the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Cheng-Chwee can be contacted at


Research interests:
– International relations
– Hedging and smaller states’ foreign policy behavior
– Regional multilateralism and minilateralism in Indo-Pacific
– ASEAN and Southeast Asian security
– Malaysia’s foreign and defence policies
– China-Southeast Asia relations
– BRI and geopolitics of connectivity-building



  1. Newton Advanced Fellowship(British Academy) ▪ 2016-2018
  2. UKM Excellent Service Award (Anugerah Perkhidmatan Cemerlang), Malaysia ▪ 2016
  3. The Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program(CWP) Postdoctoral Research Associate Fellowship ▪ 2013/2014
  4. KPT-UKM Postdoctoral Fellowship Award ▪ 2012/2013
  5. 2009 Michael Leifer Memorial Prize, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) ▪ 2010
  6. William and Marie-Daniele Zartman Fellowship, Johns Hopkins SAIS ▪ 2009
  7. Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation (CCKF) Doctoral Fellowship, Taiwan ▪ 2008/2009
  8. Lee Kong Chian Research Fellowship Award, Singapore ▪ 2007
  9. SAIS Ph.D. Student Fellowship, Johns Hopkins University ▪ 2006/07 & 2007/2008
  10. UKM Faculty Development (Study Leave) Award, Malaysia ▪ 2005/06
  11. Fulbright Graduate Study Scholarship ▪ 2003/2004 & 2004/2005
  12. ASIA Fellows Award (Asian Scholarship Foundation – Ford Foundation), Bangkok ▪ 2002/2003
  13. UKM Excellent Service Award (Anugerah Perkhidmatan Terpuji), Malaysia ▪ 2002
  14. British High Commissioner’s Chevening Award ▪ 1997/1998


Selected Publications:

  1. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2020, forthcoming). “Legitimation and the Agency of Host Country: Evidence from Laos, Malaysia, and Thailand’s BRI Engagement,” in Florian Schneider, ed., Global Perspectives on China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Asserting Agency through Regional Connectivity. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
  2. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2020). “The Twin Chessboards of US-China Rivalry: Reshaping Geostrategic Supply and Demand in Post-Pandemic Asia,” Asian Perspective, Vol. 44, No. 4 (October).
  3. David M. Lampton, Selina Ho, and Cheng-Chwee Kuik (2020). Rivers of Iron: Railroads and Chinese Power in Southeast Asia. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.
  4. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2020). “Hedging in Post-Pandemic Asia: What, How, and Why?’ The Asan Forum: An Online Journal, June 6, why/
  5. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2020). “Connectivity and Gaps: The Bridging Links and Missed Links of China’s BRI in Southeast Asia,” in Maria Adele Carrai, Jean-Christophe DeFraigne, and Jan Wouters, eds. The Belt and Road Initiative and Global Governance. Northampton, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd, pp. 76-95.
  6. Kuik Cheng-Chwee and Hoo Chiew Ping (2020). “The Bilateral-Multilateral Nexus in the New Southern Policy,” The Asan Forum: An Online Journal (January 7).
  7. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2020). “Mapping Malaysia in the Evolving Indo-Pacific Construct,” CSCAP Regional Security Outlook 2020 (Canberra: Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific).
  8. BA Hamzah and Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2019). “The Making of Defence White Paper”, New Straits Times (December 7).
  9. Ngeow Chow Bing and Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2019). “4th breakthrough in Malaysia-China relations,” New Straits Times (April 24).
  10. Kuik Cheng-Chwee and Liew Chin Tong (2018). “Decoding the Mahathir Doctrine,” The Interpreter (August 20).
  11. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2018). “Opening a Strategic Pandora’s Jar? US-China Uncertainties and the Three Wandering Genies in Southeast Asia,” The Asan Forum: An Online Journal (July 2).
  12. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2018). “Keeping the Balance: Power Transitions Threaten ASEAN’s Hedging Role,” East Asia Forum Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 1 (January-March), pp. 22-23.
  13. Alice D. Ba and Kuik Cheng Chwee (2018) “Southeast Asia and China: Engagement and Constrainment”, in Alice D. Ba and Mark Beeson, eds., Contemporary Southeast Asia: The Politics of Change, Contestation, and Adaptation, 3rd edition (London: Palgrave), pp. 229-247.
  14. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2017). “A Tempting Torch? Malaysia Embraces (and Leverages on) BRI Despite Domestic Discontent”, in Praxis: A Review of Policy Practice, Asian Politics and Policy, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 652-654.
  15. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2017). “A View from Southeast Asia: Beyond the ASEAN-based Concentric Multilateralism”, The Asan Forum: An Online Journal(September 5).
  16. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2017). “Explaining the Contradiction in China’s South China Sea Policy: Structural Drivers and Domestic Imperatives,” China: An International Journal, Vol. 15, No. 1 (February), pp. 1-24.
  17. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2016) (With Ithrana Lawrence). “Duterte’s and Najib’s China Visits and the Future of Small-State ‘Realignment’ in the Trump Era,” The Asan Forum: An Online Journal(December 14).
  18. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2016). “China’s ‘Militarization’ in the South China Sea: Three Target Audiences,” East Asian Policy, Vol. 8, No. 2 (April/June), pp. 15-24.
  19. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2016). “How Do Weaker States Hedge? Unpacking ASEAN States’ Alignment Behavior towards China,” Journal of Contemporary China, Vol. 25, No. 100, pp. 500-514.
  20. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2016). “Malaysia between the United Sates and China: What do Weaker States Hedge Against?” Asian Politics and Policy, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 155-177.
  21. Alice Ba, Kuik Cheng-Chwee, & Sueo Sudo, eds. (2016). Institutionalizing East Asia: Mapping and Reconfiguring Regional Cooperation(London & New York: Routledge).
  22. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2015). “Malaysia’s Balancing Act”, The International New York Times(December 7), p. 8.
  23. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2015). “The Elephant in the Room: Is the Emerging Third Pillar Reshaping Asian Architecture and Regional Responses?” The Asan Forum: An Online Journal(November-December).
  24. Kuik Cheng-Chwee & Gilbert Rozman (2015). “Introduction to Part 1: Light or Heavy Hedging: Positioning between China and the United States,” in Gilbert Rozman, ed., Joint U.S.-Korea Academic Studies 2015, Vol. 26, (Washington, DC: Korea Economic Institute of America), pp. 1-9.
  25. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2015). “Variations on a (Hedging) Theme: Comparing ASEAN Core States’ Alignment Behavior”, in Gilbert Rozman, ed., Joint U.S.-Korea Academic Studies 2015, Vol. 26 (Washington, DC: Korea Economic Institute of America), pp. 11-26.
  26. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2015). “Malaysia’s Relations with Major and Middle Powers”, Observatoire Asie du Sud-est(Paris: Asia Centre, Sciences Po).
  27. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2015). “Introduction: Decomposing and Assessing South Korea’s Hedging Options”, in “Special Forum: South Korea’s Foreign Policy Options”, The Asan Forum: An Online Journal, Vol. 3, No. 3 (May-June).
  28. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2015). “An Emerging 3rd Pillar in Asian Architecture? AIIB and Other China-led Initiatives”, Asia-Pacific Bulletin, Number 305, March 26 (Washington, DC: East-West Center).
  29. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2015). “Malaysia-China Relations: Three Enduring Themes”, in Meredith Weiss, ed., Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Malaysia(London & New York: Routledge), pp. 417-427.
  30. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2014). 《中国参与东盟主导的机制:东南亚的视角》[China’s Participation in the ASEAN-led Institutions after the U.S. Rebalancing], in Men Honghua and Pu Xiaoyu, eds., 全球精英眼中的中国略走向[China’s Strategic Directions in the Eyes of Global Elites] (Beijing: Renmin Publisher).
  31. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2014). “Malaysia-China Relations after MH370: Policy Change or Business as Usual?” The Asan Forum: An Online Journal, October 15.
  32. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2013). “Making Sense of Malaysia’s China Policy: Asymmetry, Proximity, and Elite’s Domestic Authority,” Chinese Journal of International Politics(Oxford University Press), Vol. 6, pp. 429-467.
  33. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2013). “Malaysia’s U.S. Policy under Najib: Structural and Domestic Sources of a Small State’s Strategy,” Asian Security, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp. 143-164.
  34. Kuik Cheng-Chwee, Nor Azizan Idris and Abd Rahim Md Nor (2012). “The China Factor in the U.S. ‘Reengagement’ with Southeast Asia: Drivers and Limits of Converged Hedging,” Asian Politics and Policy, Vol. 4, No. 3 (July), pp. 315-344.
  35. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2011). “China’s Evolving Strategic Profile in East Asia: A Southeast Asian Perspective,” in China and East Asian Strategic Dynamics: The Shaping of a New Regional Order, edited by Mingjiang Li and Dongmin Lee (Lantham: Lexington-Rowman & Littlefield), pp. 127-149.
  36. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2010). “Analyzing Malaysia’s Changing Alignment Choice, 1971-89,” Jebat: Malaysian Journal of History, Politics and Strategic Studies, Vol. 37, pp. 41-74.
  37. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2009). “Shooting Rapids in a Canoe: Singapore and Great Powers,” in Impressions of the Goh Chok Tong Years in Singapore, edited by Bridget Welsh, James Chin, Arun Mahizhnan, and Tan Tarn How (Singapore: National University of Singapore Press), pp. 156-167.
  38. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2008). “The Essence of Hedging: Malaysia and Singapore’s Response to a Rising China,” Contemporary Southeast Asia, Vol. 30, No. 2 (August), pp. 159-185.
  39. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2008). “China’s Evolving Multilateralism in Asia: The Aussenpolitik and Innenpolitik Explanations,” in East Asian Multilateralism, edited by Kent E. Calder and Francis Fukuyama (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press), pp. 109-142.
  40. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2005). “Multilateralism in China’s ASEAN Policy: Its Evolution, Characteristics, and Aspiration,” Contemporary Southeast Asia, Vol. 27, No. 1 (April), pp. 102-122.
  41. Kuik Cheng-Chwee and Bridget Welsh (2005). “Brunei: Multifaceted Survival Strategies of a Small State,” in Asian Security Handbook: Terrorism and the New Security Environment, 3rd ed., edited by William M. Carpenter and David G. Wiencek (London & New York: M. E. Sharpe), pp. 56-69
  42. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2005). “China’s Participation in the ASEAN Regional Forum: The Exogenous and Endogenous Effects of International Institutions,” in China and Southeast Asia: Changing Political and Strategic Ties, edited by James K. Chin and Nicholas Thomas (Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong), pp. 141-169.
  43. Kuik Cheng-Chwee (2004). 《中国参与盟主的地区机制的利益分析》 [An Interest-based Analysis on China’s Participation in the ASEAN-led Regional Institutions], 世界经济与政治 [World Economics and Politics] (Beijing) No. 9 (September), pp. 53-59.


Professional Experience:

  • Member, Editorial Board ▪Asian Politics and Policy ▪ September 2020 – Present
  • Member, Editorial Committee ▪Asian Perspective ▪ August 2017 – Present
  • Member, Editorial Board ▪Australian Journal of International Affairs ▪ June 2016 – Present
  • Member, International Advisory Board ▪Contemporary Southeast Asia ▪ March 2016 – Present
  • Member, Editorial Board ▪Routledge “IR Theory and Practice in Asia” Book Series ▪ November 2015 – present
  • Project Leader & Principal Investigator▪ Newton Advanced Fellowship Project on “Asymmetry and Authority: Southeast Asian States’ Responses to China’s Belt and Road Initiative” (in collaboration with Dr. Lee Jones, Queen Mary University of London) ▪ March 2016 – Present
  • Co-Researcher▪ Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Project on “Road to Chinese Power: Railroad Infrastructure and Beijing’s Quest for Influence” (led by Professor David M. Lampton) ▪ January 2016 – Present
  • Senior Researcher▪ Unit Perundingan Universiti Malaya (UPUM) Project on “Malaysia’s Foreign Policy as a Middle Power” (led by Tan Sri Kamal Salil) ▪ August 2016 – February 2017
  • Adjunct Lecturer ▪ Malaysian Armed Forces Defense College (MPAT), Ministry of Defense, Malaysia ▪ February 2010 – July 2012; September 2014 – present
  • Adjunct Lecturer ▪ Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia ▪ October 2009 – July 2012; September 2014 – present
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate ▪ Princeton-Harvard “China and the World Program” (CWP), Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University ▪ September 2013 – August 2014
  • Associate Member ▪ Nuffield College, University of Oxford ▪ August 2012 – August 2014
  • Visiting Research Fellow ▪ Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford ▪ August 2012 – August 2013
  • Visiting Fellow ▪ Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Jakarta ▪ November-December 2011
  • Visiting Scholar ▪ ASEAN Studies Center, American University, Washington, DC ▪ August 2011
  • Visiting Scholar ▪ Southeast Asian Studies, School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University, Washington, DC ▪ June-July 2011
  • Adjunct Lecturer ▪ Malaysian Armed Forces Defense College (MPAT), Ministry of Defense, Malaysia ▪ February 2010 – July 2012
  • Adjunct Lecturer ▪ Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia ▪ October 2009 – July 2012
  • Lee Kong Chian Research Fellow ▪ Lee Kong Chian Reference Library, National Library Board (NLB), Singapore ▪ April-November 2007
  • Visiting Fellow ▪ Shanghai Institute of International Studies (SIIS) ▪ February-June 2003
  • Visiting Fellow ▪Institute of Asia Pacific Studies (IAPS), Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), Beijing ▪ September 2002 – February 2003