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International Relations Foreign policy Economy Diplomacy

Dealing with Assertive China: Time for Engagement 2.0

map of China and its neighbors

This article was originally published by the Harvard International Review on 12 January 2016.

By all accounts, China’s rise as a great power has reached a new phase. In 2010, by nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP), China overtook Japan as the world’s second largest economy, following stunning leaps over France, the United Kingdom, and Germany in the previous five years. Symbolically, this marked China’s arrival as the second largest global power. Concurrently, Chinese foreign policy has abandoned its earlier “lie-low, bide our time” strategy and turned assertive.

China’s rising challenge calls for a revamped American policy. To devise an effective response, we will need to be clear-eyed about the persistent drivers as well as the changing dynamics of Chinese foreign policy. We will also need to be clear on both the limitations and the adaptability of the past policy that has successfully facilitated China’s integration into the international system. Decades of China’s internationalization diminishes the prospect of war and tightens the place of China in the existing world order. But the two sides now seem stuck in a hapless state of strategic mistrust. America’s heightened concern over China is crystallized in the danger of what Professor Graham Allison calls the Thucydides Trap, the risk of war during a power transition typified by the Peloponnesian War between the rising Athens and the reigning Sparta. Chinese strategy analysts are acutely aware of the number two-power conundrum, as their country becomes the target of security fixation from the United States and its allies.

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International Relations

India: an ‘Important’ or a ‘Great’ Power?

Modi
Photo: Narendra Modi/flickr.

Last month, the Center for Security Studies (CSS) hosted an evening talk on Emerging India – A New Actor on the Global Stage? In the following podcast, we talk to one of the presenters at the event, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs’ (SWP) Christian Wagner. While Wagner agrees that India has become an undeniably important actor on the international stage, he also doubts that it will become a great power any time soon. That’s because New Delhi lacks the long-term vision and capabilities it needs to elevate its international profile at this time.


For additional materials on this topic please see:

Internal Security Trends in 2013 and a Prognosis

Abe’s Visit to India: The Strategic Implications

Chinese Navy in Eastern Indian Ocean: Implications for Delhi and Jakarta


For more information on issues and events that shape our world please visit the ISN’s Weekly Dossiers and Security Watch.

Categories
Economy

Long Live China’s Boom

Electronics factory in Shenzhen, China
Electronics factory in Shenzhen, China. Photo: glue works/Wikimedia Commons.

BEIJING – After three decades of 9.8% average annual GDP growth, China’s economic expansion has been slowing for 13 consecutive quarters – the first such extended period of deceleration since the “reform and opening up” policy was launched in 1979. Real GDP grew at an annual rate of only7.5% in the second quarter of this year (equal to the target actually set by the Chinese government at the beginning of this year). Many indicators point to further economic deceleration, and there is a growing bearishness among investors about the outlook for China. Will China crash?

Categories
Economy

The Detroit Syndrome

Construction Workers
Construction workers in China. Photo: Zhou Ding/flickr.

SINGAPORE – When the city of Detroit filed for bankruptcy last week, it became the largest such filing in United States history. Detroit’s population has dropped from 1.8 million in 1950, when it was America’s fifth-largest city, to less than 700,000 today. Its industrial base lies shattered.

And yet we live in a world where cities have never had it so good. More than half of the world’s population is urban, for the first time in history, and urban hubs generate an estimated 80% of global GDP. These proportions will rise even higher as emerging-market countries urbanize rapidly. So, what can the world learn from Detroit’s plight?

As recently as the 1990’s, many experts were suggesting that technology would make cities irrelevant. It was believed that the Internet and mobile communications, then infant technologies, would make it unnecessary for people to live in crowded and expensive urban hubs. Instead, cities like New York and London have experienced sharp increases in population since 1990, after decades of decline.

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Government Foreign policy Development

Missing Pieces: China’s Challenges, Africa’s Mixed Picture, and More

By Isobel Coleman for Council on Foreign Relations.


An employee puts up a price tag after updating the price at a supermarket in Hefei, China, April 9, 2012 (Jianan Yu/Courtesy Reuters).

In this week’s installment of Missing Pieces, Charles Landow discusses stories on China and Africa, as well as a report on U.S. international engagement. Enjoy the reading.