Abstract As China continues to strengthen its geopolitical status in Southeast Asia, it has expanded its foreign policy strategies to include track 2 diplomacy, which focuses on multilateral security dialogues and aims to support and strengthen official diplomacy. The existing literature on China’s track 2 diplomacy focuses on its effectiveness as a mechanism for conflict resolution, often overlooking the important question of how and why it became a foreign policy option for China. Using data drawn from key informant interviews, document analysis, and participant observation, this study examines specifically the role of non-traditional security (NTS) in the expansion of China’s track 2 diplomacy in Southeast Asia. From the lens of the securitization framework, this study argues that China’s track 2 diplomacy in Southeast Asia is, to a certain extent, a result of securitizing the NTS dimension of these issues. Moreover, while track 2 diplomacy functions as a mechanism to manage NTS threats, China has not completely abandoned its traditional security considerations. In fact, it views track 2 as instrumental in pursuing its wider political, security, and strategic goals. This study further explores the prospects and challenges for China’s track 2 diplomacy.

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