It has been argued by many scholars that South East Asian nations are taking the option of engaging in the outright which includes the external balancing against China because of many regions including the massive material costs which would have to be entailed and also because of the political cost of bringing up another greater power and also to have economic gains in order to have a good relationship with China. These strategies may include the development of the military powers which are capable and reliant in front of the larger power in order to influence the bigger power, to strengthen the weaker power and to remain credible. The response of the South East Asian nations in this issue can be regarded as accommodation with hedging.
It has been observed that Malaysia has never been in a central position over the dispute with China for this region. According to Elina Noor (2012), it is stated that the discussion of the South China Sea has been limited to the closed foreign policies. This approach is used in order to avoid the increase in the emotions of nationalists and ceding the control of the issue in the media of new masses.
Malaysia made the very first claim in 1979. Before that, it was in a support for the Chinese government. In 1981, serious concerns were raised over the sales of US arms in China. In 1983, Malaysia captured the region named as Swallow Reef. Further in 1986, it also captured the regions of Mariveles Reef and Ardasier Bank. Though in 1984, it had signed the Bilateral Training and Consultation Agreement with US so as to have a cordial relation with China. The intention of the same was to balance the concerns of security which were rising due to the greater economic interests in China.
In 1992 when Law on territories’ was announced in China, the government of Malaysia announced that they will be increasing their defence in the area of disputes by four times. Further in the year 1994, BITAC agreement was upgraded into the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement which permitted the ships and aircrafts of US to transit through Malaysia for the purpose of maintenance and supply. In 1995 when China occupied the Mischief reef, Malaysia further increased its naval patrols in order to prevent the moves of China closer to its coast.