The goal of this rubric is to filter and promote the recent scholarship on East Asia coming from the leading IR and Area Studies journals. The Regional Security Knowledge Hub team periodically refreshes the list, in winter, spring, summer and autumn. If you are interested in getting updates on the new content, please subscribe to our newsletter.



“Collective Resilience: Deterring China’s Weaponization of Economic Interdependence”, by Victor D. Cha, International Security, 48 (1): 91–124 (2023).

Since the 2010s, China has used economic coercion against Western and Asian states to achieve territorial and political goals. China’s leveraging of its market is a form of “predatory liberalism” that weaponizes the networks of interdependence created by globalization. The United States and other like-minded partners have mostly used piecemeal “de-risking” measures such as decoupling, supply chain resilience, reshoring, and trade diversion to reduce dependence on China and thereby minimize vulnerability to its economic coercion. But these practices do not stop the Chinese government’s economic bullying. “Collective resilience” is a peer competition strategy designed to deter the Xi Jinping regime’s economic predation. What informs this strategy is the understanding that interdependence, even asymmetric interdependence, is a two-way street. Original trade data show that the previous and current targets of economic coercion by the Xi Jinping regime export over $46.6 billion worth of goods to China on which it is more than 70 percent dependent as a proportion of its total imports of those goods. These target states could band together in a collective resilience alliance and practice economic deterrence by promising to retaliate against China’s high-dependence trade should Beijing act against any one of the alliance members.

“Japan and the liberal international order: rules-based, multilateral, inclusive and localized”, by Ryoko Nakano, International Affairs, 99 (4): 1421–1438 (2023).

This article examines Japan’s security and foreign policy as an example of how a major power engages in the liberal international order (LIO) and what this implies for the future of that order. Facing China’s increased power and influence in the past two decades, Japan has made strategic adjustments in response to regional and global power transitions while developing an idea of a wider geopolitical landscape on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s initiative. However, this article argues that Japan’s idea of an expanded regional scope and its vision of order were addressed decades earlier through ‘comprehensive security’ (sogo anzen hosho). While the country is an ally of the United States and clearly accepts the alliance as a key part of international order, Japan has its own ideas about international order; these accept much of the LIO but go beyond it, particularly in the articulation and operationalization of comprehensive security. By adopting the concept of norm localization, this article argues that Japan does not have the power to coerce others to take any actions to defend the current international order, but it can adapt and tweak the dominant LIO norms, principles and practices to build congruence with local norms of sovereignty and territorial integrity embedded in its own region. To create a broader consensus in favour of sustaining the LIO, major powers like Japan can approach the sceptics by presenting an alternative to either total rejection or total acceptance of the LIO norms.


“Asian conceptions of international order: what Asia wants”, by Kanti Bajpai and Evan A. Laksmana, International Affairs, 99(4): 1371–1381 (2023).

How do Asian states regard the present liberal international order (LIO)? To what extent do they agree with each other? Would they modify or radically change the current order? What are the implications for policy-makers around the world? The special section presented here comprises a set of articles by Asian scholars based in Asia, who live and breathe their countries’ international relations, to address these questions. In the past five years, International Affairs has published two special issues relevant to our project: ‘Ordering the world: liberal internationalism in theory and practice’ (January 2018) and ‘Deglobalization: the future of the liberal international order’ (September 2021).1 The journal has also published select articles on Asian conceptions of order—primarily Chinese views of, and alternatives to, the liberal international order. The two special issues consist of a fine set of articles on the nature and prospects of the LIO, but they were not intended to answer the broader question of how the non-western world regards the present international order. Publishing on China’s views of world affairs is understandably almost an industry in itself, but the future of international order and regional order in Asia will be the product of more than just Chinese preferences.


“Nonproliferation Information and Attitude Change: Evidence From South Korea”, by Sangyong Son and Jong Hee Park, Journal of Conflict Resolution, 67 (6): 1095-1127 (2023).

What explains the foreign policy gap between elites and the general public on nuclear proliferation? We investigate specific contexts in which experts’ nonproliferation information changes public attitudes toward nuclear weapons development using a novel attitude change experiment. By randomly assigning seven categories of nonproliferation information to pro-armament survey participants, we examine how different types of nonproliferation information affect pro-armament respondents’ opinions and behavioral choices. The results of our experiment demonstrate the enlightening effect of economic sanctions information. After learning about the economic costs and consequences of nuclear weapons development, pro-armament respondents substantially changed their opinion as well as behaviors toward nuclear proliferation. In comparison to economic sanctions information, other types of nonproliferation information (e.g. conditional military punishment, normative sanctions, nuclear technology sanctions, elite or public opposition to proliferation) have limited effects on pro-armament subjects’ attitude changes. These findings are the first to identify the relative explanatory powers of previous explanations for nuclear nonproliferation at the individual level.

“ASEAN and Great Power Rivalry in Regionalism: From East Asia to the Indo-Pacific”, by Hidetaka Yoshimatsu, Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, 42 (1): 25-44 (2023).

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which serves as the linchpin of regionalism in East Asia, is facing a new challenge of great power politics. This article explores ASEAN’s position in and strategy for taking cooperative regional initiatives by referring to the management of confrontational politics between rival states. It explains ASEAN’s handling of great power politics theoretically by impartial enmeshment for managing great powers’ material interests and moral legitimacy in developing specific ideational frameworks. This article argues that ASEAN managed great powers’ rivalry by enmeshing them into its regional initiatives impartially and maintaining organisational legitimacy by developing systems of socio-cultural norms. It also contends that ASEAN needs, in envisioning the future of Indo-Pacific regionalism, to extend its strategic reach through alignments with other parties and enhance moral legitimacy by deepening and broadening normative frameworks for advancing collective interests for the Indo-Pacific region.

“Does External Threat Unify? Chinese Pressure and Domestic Politics in Taiwan and South Korea”, by Christopher Carothers, Foreign Policy Analysis, 19 (1), 2023.

Since 2009, China’s growing geopolitical assertiveness has triggered or exacerbated conflicts with many of its neighbors. External threat is often believed to produce domestic cohesion, such as bipartisanship or a rally-‘round-the-flag effect. However, this study uses the cases of Taiwan and South Korea to show that political parties have sometimes united around a response to Chinese pressure but at other times have been sharply divided. Despite Beijing’s aggression toward Taiwan since 2016, the Kuomintang and the Democratic Progressive Party remain at odds over cross-strait policy. In contrast, South Korean conservatives and progressives united in response to Chinese economic sanctions over the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense. I argue that a country is less likely to unite against a foreign threat when a “formative rift” in its history divides political groups over national identity issues and causes them to perceive the threat differently, as in Taiwan but not South Korea. This study is based on a multilingual analysis of Taiwanese and South Korean political parties’ statements on China policy. Its findings contribute to scholarship on how international factors affect domestic politics and our understanding of China’s rise.


“The West Papua issue in Pacific regional politics: explaining Indonesia’s foreign policy failure”, by Hipolitus Ringgi Wangge & Stephanie Lawson, The Pacific Review, 36 (1): 61-89 (2023).

Pacific island countries have paid increasing attention to the situation in Indonesia’s easternmost provinces of Papua and West Papua (commonly referred to collectively as West Papua) in recent years, prompted mainly by continuing human rights abuses as well as the more general political and economic marginalization of indigenous West Papuan people since integration with Indonesia in 1969. This article addresses some key questions concerning Indonesia’s failure to deal effectively with the issue. Against a background of reactionary hypernationalism on the one hand, and a rhetorical anti-colonial internationalism on the other, domestic policy with respect to the treatment of indigenous West Papuans has, for the most part, seen a continuation of repressive authoritarian measures. And in responding to international criticisms, foreign policy has been poorly handled. There has been a lack of serious engagement with human rights issues as reflected in ongoing denial of abuses in the provinces and a generally reactive and defensive foreign policy approach. At a bureaucratic level, there is little coordination between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other ministries with responsibilities for West Papua, and therefore no effective basis on which to build a coherent policy response. Another problem consists in Indonesia’s often clumsy public diplomacy in the Pacific islands region. As a consequence, the West Papua issue continues to grow in prominence in Pacific regional politics and beyond.


“Balance of power, balance of alignment, and China’s role in the regional order transition”, by Feng Liu, The Pacific Review, 36 (2): 261-283 (2023).

The Indo-Pacific region has become a central focus of great power competition. Not surprisingly, a rising China seeks to play an important, if not a leading role in the transformation of Asia’s present regional order. The United States, meanwhile, as the unipole, has strong incentives to prevent the rise of a peer competitor. Facing certain structural and domestic constraints, China is disinclined to resort to the strategy of violent revision or subversion historically pursued by previous rising powers. Instead, China has pursued a gradual change of the existing regional order through a combination of internal balancing and external reassurance strategies. Specifically, China’s quest for great power status in the region, particularly in response to the Indo-Pacific strategy adopted by the United States since the Trump administration, has prompted its proactive shift to counterbalance the US’ vision of order in the region. This paper argues that the balance of power and the balance of alignment constitute two key variables that affect the prospect of Sino-US competition for a preferable regional order. Beijing’s balancing strategies have significantly enhanced its economic and military capabilities, reducing the gap with the United States on the one hand and attracted certain regional states to join China-led regional initiatives on the other. However, owing to the complex balancing dynamics in the region and the agency of small and middle powers, the balance of alignment supports neither American nor Chinese dominance of Asia. Contrary to the ‘new Cold War’ narrative, the contest for order does not entail dividing the region into two rival blocs, but rather creating certain overlapping groupings and coalitions led by the two great powers. It consequently also signifies that the current order transition under a new bipolarity will be prolonged and relatively stable compared to the Cold War bipolarity.

“Riding the tide: assessing South Korea’s hedging strategy through regional security initiatives”, by Yaechan Lee, The Pacific Review, 36 (3): 494-520 (2023).

This article examines how South Korea has used the ASEAN Plus security platforms to hedge between the US and China and why it has not participated in the FOIP strategy. It argues that the platforms’ neutral guise, owing to ASEAN centrality and their global norms-based agenda has allowed Korea to passively voice its alignment with the US, thereby answering to the pressure for a higher commitment from the US and clearing the political risk of linking the alignment decision to its own views. It asserts, therefore, that access to effective multilateral security platforms allows higher leverage to the weaker ally in an asymmetric alliance relationship.

“Japan and the new Indo-Pacific order: the rise of an entrepreneurial power”, by H. D. P. Envall and Thomas S. Wilkins, The Pacific Review, 36 (4): 691-722 (2023).

“This article revisits the conceptualisation of (regional) order in International Relations (IR) theory to illuminate key aspects of Japan’s order-building role in the Indo-Pacific. The framework is based upon a multi-dimensional understanding of regional order-building allowing for an examination of Japan’s vision for a ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’ (FOIP) policy ‘vision’, the challenges it faces as a secondary power, and its conduct as an emerging entrepreneurial power in the Indo-Pacific. The article’s central argument is that Japan’s order-building should be understood in the context of the country’s deeper strategic situation and, in particular, its position as a secondary, but still highly influential, power. This has implications for understanding Japan’s approach to international order and how it might deploy norm entrepreneurship in shaping the new Indo-Pacific order.


“China and the Logic of Illiberal Hegemony”, by Darren J. Lim & G. John Ikenberry, Security Studies, 32 (1): 1-31 (2023).

We develop a theoretical logic and character of a Chinese model of international order. We begin by considering general problems of power transition and hegemonic order-building, with reference to the American experience with liberal hegemony. China will, like all powerful states, seek an order that protects its interests. But unlike its predecessors, China faces an existing order containing elements that threaten its domestic political and economic model. We describe this domestic model and consider how it might be defended at the international level—embedded in the logic and organizational principles of hegemonic order. Our contribution is to theorize the consequences of China’s hegemonic interests, including domestic preservation, and its order-building practices, for the operation and underlying character of a China-led hegemonic order. Though not inherently illiberal in form, we outline how the emergent order could generate illiberal outcomes. This article therefore theorizes the concept of illiberal hegemony.

“Seeking status and ontological security in hierarchy: Korea in the historical East Asian order”, by In Young Min, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, 23 (3): 451–478 (2023).

This article argues that secondary states in international hierarchy pursue distinctive strategies to define and secure their identities. When and why do they adopt strategy of socialization and emulation? When and why do they prioritize security of identity even at the expense of physical security? To address these questions, I empirically examine the relationships between Korea and imperial China during the Ming and Qing dynasties. I ask why Chosŏn Korea chose to voluntarily subordinate to the Ming, and why it risked its survival during the period of obvious power transition with the rise of the Qing. I develop a theory of secondary states’ identity-seeking based on social identity theory and ontological security studies. Theoretically, it suggests a new mechanism in which secondary states’ status-seeking generates a lock-in effect through deep socialization. Empirically, it adds to the growing literature on historical East Asian international relations by explicitly theorizing secondary states’ quest for identity.

“The promise and challenges of launching cyber-military strikes: Japan’s ‘cross-domain’ operational concepts”, by Nori Katagiri, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, 23 (2): 297–324 (2023).

I investigate three factors that keep countries from adopting the strategy of cross-domain warfare and launching cyber and military operations at the same time. I do so by disentangling the relationship between international law, cybersecurity norms, and the concept of cross-domain operations. My analysis of Japan’s cross-domain vision indicates how difficult it can be for norm-compliant countries to launch cross-domain operations. In Japan’s case, the reason for the challenge rests with flaws in its legal system and a long-standing commitment to international legal and normative regulations applied to cyberspace dynamics. The three factors are behind the reason why Japan has never carried out a cross-domain operation, even though other states have essentially done so. The analysis generates several strategic implications for other countries contemplating the use of cross-domain operations within their own legal and international parameters.


“Weaponised Artificial Intelligence and Chinese Practices of Human–Machine Interaction”, by Guangyu Qiao-Franco, Ingvild Bode, The Chinese Journal of International Politics, 16 (1): 106–128 (2023).

Weaponised artificial intelligence (AI) and the prospective development of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) are topics that have sparked international debate on retaining human control over the use of force. This article unpacks China’s understanding of human–machine interaction to find that it encompasses many shades of grey. Specifically, despite repeatedly supporting a legal ban on LAWS, China simultaneously promotes a narrow understanding of these systems that intends to exclude such systems from what it deems “beneficial” uses of AI. We offer understandings of this ambivalent position by investigating how it is constituted through Chinese actors’ competing practices in the areas of economy, science and technology, defence, and diplomacy. Such practices produce normative understandings of human control and machine autonomy that pull China’s position on LAWS in different directions. We contribute to the scholarship bounded by norm research and international practice theories in examining how normativity originates in and emerges from diverse domestic contexts within competing practices. We also aim to provide insights into possible approaches whereby to achieve consensus in debates on regulating LAWS, which at the time of writing have reached a stalemate.



“China’s Approach to the Iran-Saudi Arabia Rivalry”, by Mohmad Waseem Malla, Middle East Policy, 29(1): 25-40 (2022).

This article critically examines the configurations of China’s approach to the Middle East, in general, and the Iran-Saudi Arabia axis, in particular. China’s traditional practice has been to secure its national interests in economic terms while maintaining a critical distance from the domestic affairs of its partner countries. But lately, with changing geopolitical dynamics in the region, the scope of Beijing’s engagement with these states has transformed as well. Though the basic contours of the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia are geopolitical in nature, it is chiefly driven by sectarian and other identity markers, with the potential of dragging other countries to their respective sides. The article argues that, as China multiplies its regional engagements to ensure energy security for its rapidly expanding economy and international profile, the ever-changing geopolitical realities will likely make Beijing’s political role inevitable and therefore preclude a balanced approach toward Iran and Saudi Arabia.

“Mapping the Literature on China and Russia in IR and Area Studies: A Bibliometric Analysis (1990–2019)”, by Maria Mary Papageorgiou & Alena Vieira, Journal of Chinese Political Science 27, 155–181 (2022).

The recent years have witnessed a significant change in China–EUrope relations, with the EU’s strategic positioning of China undergoing a fundamental shift from a “partner” to a “systemic rival.” By applying a theoretical framework based on neoclassical realism, the present paper examines the determinant factors leading to such a shift. This study highlights three factors: first, a change in the US’s strategy and governance capability; second, the power symmetries between China and EUrope, including salient changes in material strength and marked differences in norms; third, an emergent change in strategic culture, encompassing a striving China vis-à-vis a strategically autonomous EUrope. By following Götz’s (2021) insights on neoclassical realist approaches that employ intervening variables as complementary factors, we identify the US factor as the most important international factor in structural terms, while the power symmetries and strategic culture act as complementary factors. The paper concludes that while maintaining engagement, China–EUrope relations will only see further intensified rivalry and contradictions in the future.

“Global Attitudes toward China: Trends and Correlates”, by Yu Xie &Yongai Jin, Journal of Contemporary China 31(133): 1-16 (2022).

China’s impact on the world has been increasing in the past few decades. How is the rest of the world reacting to China’s rise? One way to answer this question is to study public attitudes toward China. This article examines the trends, patterns, and determinants of public attitudes toward China in other countries by analyzing data from opinion surveys in the years 2005 to 2018. Two motivating hypotheses guide this article’s analyses. First, public attitudes toward China in developing or less-developed countries are economy-oriented, with China’s involvement in a local economy leading to a more positive attitude toward the country. Second, public attitudes toward China in developed countries are ideology-oriented, with an emphasis on values and beliefs. The study concludes that public opinion on China has experienced a downward trend overall, especially in developed and democratic countries. Moreover, China’s foreign direct investment in a given country is positively associated with favorable opinion, while Chinese exports to other countries are negatively associated with favorable opinion. 


“‘A Shared Future for Mankind’: Rhetoric and Reality in Chinese Foreign Policy under Xi Jinping”, by Andrew J. Nathan &Boshu Zhang, Journal of Contemporary China 31(133): 57-71 (2022).

The phrase ‘work to build a community with a shared future for mankind’ became the guiding slogan of Chinese foreign policy in 2017. Beneath its smooth surface, the concept contains several layers of complex and sometimes contradictory meanings. Among other things, it seeks to position China both as one among many developing countries, treating all as equals, and as a major world leader that exerts influence over other states and the international system. The concept is thus at once both egalitarian and hierarchical. Along with the core concept, Chinese foreign policy articulates niche discourses on ethno-cultural identity, Marxism, and human rights that are targeted at special audiences. The writings of leading Chinese international-relations intellectuals tend to reveal a more emphatically hierarchical view of the international system, with China at the top, than is explicit in China’s official rhetoric. Xi’s international message has been promoted energetically by domestic media and promoted tirelessly on the international stage, with adaptations appropriate to diverse audiences. The Chinese message has met with a mixed reception abroad. China’s rhetoric of cooperation is seen by many in other countries as a cover for self-interested strategic motives.

“The US–China Rivalry in the Emerging Bipolar World: Hostility, Alignment, and Power Balance”, by Suisheng Zhao, Journal of Contemporary China 31(134): 169-185 (2022).

This article argues that although the US–China rivalry has not presented with some essential elements of the US–Soviet Cold War, the emerging bipolarity has led to misplaced ideological hostility and repeated failling attempts of building alliance systems. Delicate power balance between the two countries has further complicated the rivalry by giving each side the false conviction to prevail.

“From Defensive toward Offensive Realism: Strategic Competition and Continuities in the United States’ China Policy”, by Baohui Zhang, Journal of Contemporary China 31(137): 793-809(2022).

This study dispels the common view that the Trump administration has fundamentally reoriented the United States’ China policy by emphasizing strategic competition. Instead, the study argues that the Obama administration’s pivot initiative began the shift of the United States’ China policy from a defensive realist posture toward an offensive realist posture. The Biden administration’s China policy inherits the strategic competition approach. This study suggests that the competitive logic of the anarchic international system underlies all three administrations’ competition-oriented China policies. Therefore, while there are differences in the China policies of the three administrations, their commonalities and continuities are salient. Structural realism, especially offensive realism and dynamic neorealism, thus offers important insights into the future direction of Sino-US relations.


“What’s Really Going On in the South China Sea?”, by Mark Raymond and David A. Welch, Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, 41(2), 214–239 (2022).

Most analysts and commentators portray China’s conduct in the South China Sea as a series of aggressive norm violations by an emerging peer competitor to the United States. We argue that this narrative misreads both the substance and dynamics of recent Chinese policy. Since 2016, China has strenuously sought – and largely managed – not to be in technical violation of the Philippines Arbitration Tribunal ruling despite having publicly disavowed it and has attempted to position itself as a champion of win–win co-operation. This stands in stark contrast to the previous four years in which China rather shockingly began asserting itself with little regard for either legality or diplomatic nicety – the period in which the “aggressive China” narrative gelled. What explains China’s whiplash behaviour? Why has the international community largely failed to notice recent changes and adjust the narrative accordingly? We argue that the answers to these questions lie in an eclectic appeal to bureaucratic struggles, the regime’s two-level game balancing domestic and international pressures, and psychological considerations. These do not, however, provide satisfactory accounts either of China’s behaviour or of the international response in the absence of recognising the crucial importance of second-order rules for making, interpreting, and applying first-order rules in the international system. Social practices of rule-making, in short, provide vital context. Our analysis suggests a series of takeaways both for International Relations theory and for managing relations with China.

“Norm contestation, statecraft and the South China Sea: defending maritime order”, by Rebecca Strating, The Pacific Review 35(1): 1-31 (2022).

Since 2009, the South China Sea disputes have taken on increasing global significance. Situated within a rapidly transforming political landscape, these sovereignty and maritime disputes are totemic of contests over the regional security order and the institutions, rules and laws that support it. The United States has explicitly called upon ‘like-minded’ allies and partners to defend the so-called ‘rules-based order’ against the revisionism of the rising People’s Republic of China, including in the maritime domain. In particular, the South China Sea has become a highly visible arena of ‘normative contestation’, one that raises questions about how norm-preservationist regional powers enact security practices to uphold their preferred vision of order. This study uses Australia as a regional power case study to assess the interests and approaches of a key US ally to normative contestation in the South China Sea. It addresses two questions: first, how does Australia perceive and articulate its interests in the South China Sea? Second, what security practices – diplomatic, legal and operational – can a regional power such as Australia bring to bear in its statecraft? It argues that as a regional power, Australia has adopted a normative approach to upholding maritime order. While Canberra has ratcheted up the rhetoric on the importance of maintaining the ‘rules-based order’ in response to China’s actions in the South China Sea, its security practices have retained a routine, ‘business-as-usual’ quality. This approach is designed to support maritime rules while avoiding economic retaliation from Beijing, reflecting broader strategic dilemmas as a middle-sized state wedged between two great powers. Unpacking the nuances of Australia’s South China Sea statecraft provides important insights for understanding for the preparedness and limitations of regional powers in defending their preferred conception of maritime order.

“North Korea, missile defense, and U.S.-China security dilemma”, by Eleni Ekmektsioglou & Ji-Young Lee, The Pacific Review, 35(4) 587-616 (2022).

This article examines the relationship between US missile defense and the US-China security dilemma dynamics by developing the concept of diffuse signaling involving the Korean peninsula. We argue that the US’ efforts to bolster deterrence against North Korea’s growing threats through missile defense have resulted in China’s countermeasures of enhancing survivability and penetrability of its second-strike capability, leading to downward spirals of tensions between Beijing and Washington. We explain how three structural factors – geography, the US alliance system, and nuclear asymmetry – have made diffuse signaling salient, thus making it very challenging for the United States to reassure China even when its actions targeted North Korea. The article empirically shows the action-reaction process through which China and the US have come to experience the aggravation of the security dilemma over the Korean peninsula.

“Keeping the peace in Southeast Asia: ASEAN and the quest for positive peace”, byMely Caballero-Anthony & Ralf Emmers, The Pacific Review, 35(6) 1079-1104(2022)

Southeast Asia has gone through a remarkable transformation in recent decades and seen peaceful change since the end of the Cold War era despite great power interference and rivalry and ongoing territorial disputes including the South China Sea conflict. The region has transformed its image from the so-called Balkans of the East in the 1960s and 1970s to an economically competitive and peaceful region today. Despite these accomplishments, the record of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in maintaining regional peace and security has also been seriously challenged, particularly at the domestic and transnational level. The paper argues that the Southeast Asian experience of peaceful change calls for a different framework of analysis that goes beyond the traditional International Relations theories which do not provide a compelling answer to whether regional peace has prevailed. It reviews ASEAN’s approaches to managing peace and security in Southeast Asia and brings close attention to domestic and international dynamics. The paper claims that the Southeast Asian states’ approach to positive peace, reflected in the notion of comprehensive security and the building of national and regional resilience, is instructive in understanding peaceful transformations in the region.

“Realism, liberalism and regional order in East Asia: toward a hybrid approach”, by T. V. Paul, The Pacific Review, 35(6)1028-1048 (2022).

East Asia offers a fertile ground for applying dominant theoretical perspectives in International Relations and understanding their relevance and limitations. As this region has seen much conflict and cooperation historically and is re-emerging as a key theater of great power competition in the 21st century even when states maintain high levels of economic interactions, our understanding of the regional order will be enhanced by the theoretical tools available in the larger mainstream IR perspectives. The existence of a peculiar regional order of no war, yet a number of simmering disputes (along with high levels of economic interdependence) can be characterized as cold peace which deserves an explanation. The paper applies two variants of realism—balance of power and hegemonic stability – and the key arguments in liberalism to analyze the cold peace in Northeast Asia and normal peace in Southeast Asia from a historical perspective. It finds both grand theoretical approaches have partial applications for understanding the East Asian order. A hybrid approach is more valuable to better explain regional order during diverse time periods and different sub-regions of East Asia. Although the presence of both hegemony and balance of power can prevent major wars for a period, they do not help resolve the pre-existing disputes. Deepened economic interdependence mitigates some spiraling tendencies as states fearful of losing too much economically do not escalate crises beyond a point. 


“Japan, Taiwan and the “One China” Framework after 50 Years”, by Adam P. Liff, The China Quarterly 252, 1066-1093 (2022).

This study analyses the “one China” framework’s significance for Japan–Taiwan relations since Tokyo switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1972. Drawing on Chinese-, Japanese- and English-language sources, it examines developments since the breakthrough Japan–PRC normalization communiqué and the “Japan formula,” which enabled Tokyo to normalize relations – six years before Washington – without recognizing Beijing’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan, and while maintaining robust, if unofficial, ties with Taipei thenceforth. Highlighting distinctions between Beijing’s self-asserted “one-China principle” and Japan’s ambiguous official position and subsequent effective policies, it assesses incremental but practically significant evolutions of Japan–Taiwan relations over the past half-century. In the 21st century, the trend towards incrementally closer ties has proven strikingly resilient to political transitions in Japan and Taiwan, China’s growing power, pushback from Beijing and worsening cross-Strait frictions. Beyond Japan–Taiwan relations and theoretical debates on “one China,” this article’s findings carry significant implications for Taiwan’s international space, cross-Strait dynamics and China–Japan–United States relations.

“Caught Between Appeasement and Limited Hard Balancing: The Philippines’ Changing Relations With the Eagle and the Dragon”, by Renato Cruz De Castro, Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs 41(2), 258–278 (2022).
After five years of pursuing a policy of appeasement towards China, the Philippines is incrementally and reluctantly shifting to “limited hard balancing.” The goal is to constrain China’s revisionist agenda in the South China Sea. This strategy entails building up the Philippine military’s territorial defence capabilities, maintaining its alliance with the U.S., and forging security partnerships with other middle power like South Korean, Japan, and Australia. During his six-year term, the late President Benigno Aquino III stood up to China’s expansive claim in the South China Sea. When Rodrigo Roa Duterte assumed the presidency in June 2016, he unravelled his predecessor’s balancing policy towards China. Nonetheless, recent developments such as the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s hostile moves against the Armed Forces of the Philippines units on Philippine-occupied islands in the South China Sea and the delays in the promised Chinese public investments in the country prompted the Duterte Administration to review the appeasement approach and to mull over on a limited hard balancing policy. In conclusion, this article contends that the Duterte Administration is at the crossroads, figuring out if it will continue its appeasement stance or adopt a limited hard balancing policy towards China.


“China’s Global Maritime Access: Alternatives to Overseas Military Bases in the Twenty-First Century”, by Isaac B. Kardon, Security Studies 31 (5), 885-916, (2022).

China lacks the network of foreign military bases that typically attends great-power expansion, yet its armed forces operate at an increasingly global scale. How has the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) managed this feat without a significant footprint on foreign soil? Why has Chinese leadership not (yet) established a network of bases to address security threats to China’s overseas interests? This article analyzes the structural constraints facing China’s military basing abroad and then examines the methods by which the PLA has nonetheless achieved significant global power-projection capability. It highlights the capacity provided by international maritime transport infrastructure owned and operated by Chinese firms as a viable—yet limited—means of securing national interests overseas with military power. The study demonstrates that the structural setting and historical sequence of China’s rise render foreign military bases relatively costly, incentivizing alternative modes of access and power projection in the maritime domain.

Autumn 2021

Riding the tide: assessing South Korea’s hedging strategy through regional security initiatives, by Yaechan Lee, The Pacific Review, published online 13 September 2021.

Abstract: This article examines how South Korea has used the ASEAN Plus security platforms to hedge between the US and China and why it has not participated in the FOIP strategy. It argues that the platforms’ neutral guise, owing to ASEAN centrality and their global norms-based agenda has allowed Korea to passively voice its alignment with the US, thereby answering to the pressure for a higher commitment from the US and clearing the political risk of linking the alignment decision to its own views. It asserts, therefore, that access to effective multilateral security platforms allows higher leverage to the weaker ally in an asymmetric alliance relationship.


Way of Authoritarian Regional Hegemon? Formation of the RCEP From the Perspective of China, by In Tae Yoo, Charles Chong-Han Wu, Journal of Asian and African Studies, published online 11 October 2021.

Abstract: How has China contributed toward the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)? The extant literature tends to either undervalue China’s role or emphasizes the absence of China’s willingness to realize the RCEP. However, it is difficult to form region-wide multilateral preferential trade agreements (PTAs), such as RCEP, without any significant contribution from a regional hegemon, such as China. This paper, thus, argues that China has contributed significantly toward the conclusion of RCEP by engendering incentives for member countries to join through multiple cooperative structures. These cooperative structures involve China-led bilateral PTAs and international development forums, which include the Belt and Road Initiative and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. With the gradual shift from bilateral to multilateral PTAs and forum-linkage strategies, China turned to be more assertive in concluding the RCEP than in the early years of RCEP negotiations, as evidenced by the discourse of political and opinion leaders.


Studying Chinese Foreign Policy Narratives: Introducing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Conferences Corpus”, by Michal Mochtak, Richard Q. Turcsanyi, Journal of Chinese Political Science, published online 23 September 2021.

Abstract: The paper presents an original corpus of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs press conferences. The dataset is a unique source of information on official positions and diplomatic narratives of China mapping almost two decades of its foreign policy discourse. The corpus contains almost 23,000 question – answer dyads from 2002 to 2020 ready to be used for analytical purposes. We argue the dataset is an important contribution to the scholarship on Chinese foreign policy stimulating further research using corpus based methods while employing both qualitative and quantitative strategies. We demonstrate possible applications of the corpus with two case studies: first maps the diplomatic discourse towards the US under the presidency of Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping (employing quantitative tools), while second analyzes narratives concerning the South China Sea disputes (employing more qualitative approach).


Modernization Planner, Authoritarian Paternalist, and Rising Power: Evolving Government Positions in China’s Internet Securitization, by Weishan Miao, Rongbin Han, Journal of Contemporary China, published online 28 September 2021.

Abstract: This article combines semantic network and critical discourse analysis to examine China’s official cybersecurity discourse from 1983 to 2018. By integrating the securitization theory and positioning theory, it shifts the analytical focus from ‘threat politics’ to ‘power politics’ by theorizing securitization as a dynamic power game. Three historical phases of cybersecurity discourse are identified, reflecting China’s evolved understanding of the issue and how it defines rights, obligations and power relations among involved actors. Though the state’s self-positioning evolved across time, first as a modernization planner, then an authoritarian paternalist, and ultimately a rising power; all three stages demonstrate continuity in featuring a state-society power relationship with the state in the presiding position to securitize the Internet instrumentally toward pursuing its policy and strategic goals.


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