Donald J. Trump made no secret of his resentment toward the People’s Republic of China (PRC). As the Republican Party’s presidential nominee he tweeted hundreds of times about China’s unfair trading practices. As president he railed against China as a currency manipulator, dubbed COVID-19 “the China virus” and labeled China an enemy of the United States. But for all of Trump’s bluster – and the tariffs, sanctions, and export controls – it is misleading to paint Trump’s China policy as altogether deviant. In truth, the slide toward greater antagonism was, and is, a widely anticipated development in a relationship that is recognized by elites on both sides as a strategic rivalry. That rivalry has historical and structural roots, and is far bigger than any one president. Trump’s bombastic presidency consequently should not, and likely will not, reorient PRC elites’ fundamental views of the U.S.-China rivalry.
Are China and the United States on a dangerous collision course, and if so, is there any hope of avoiding a Sino-American conflagration over the future of the international order? As important as such questions may be, their ubiquity threatens to render them banal. Steve Chan’s new book elevates the discourse around these common questions by compelling readers to see them in a new and distinctive light. With Thucydides’s Trap? Historical Interpretation, Logic of Inquiry, and the Future of Sino-American Relations, Chan interrogates frameworks commonly used to address such questions without losing sight of their practical significance or the practical consequences of asking and answering the questions in conventional ways.
The repressive policies deployed by the Chinese party-state towards its Muslim population in the western region of Xinjiang has been at the forefront of international media attention. Beyond the sharp increase in the security presence in the region and the widespread use of technology-intensive policing, the extra-legal internment of 1 to 3 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups has been the most notable of these repressive policies. The so-called “Xinjiang papers,” a leak of internal Chinese documents revealed by the New York Times in 2019, have contributed to unveil the policy shift that has occurred in this region since early 2017. This tightly-written article by Sheena Chestnut Greitens, Myunghee Lee, and Emir Yazici endeavors to explain this evolution. It also stresses the transnational security dimension of these policies and aims at situating the Chinese case in the broader literature on political violence and domestic repression.
The participants in this roundtable had planned to discuss Xiaoyu Pu’s Rebranding China at the 2020 meeting of the International Studies Association in Honolulu, Hawaii. COVID-19, however, intervened to cause the cancellation of the conference. We are grateful that we still have this opportunity to have an online conversation on Pu’s book in the form of this H-Diplo/ISSF roundtable.
In their recent article, “Dangerous Confidence? Chinese Views of Nuclear Escalation,” Fiona S. Cunningham and M. Taylor Fravel outline both the causes and consequences of Chinese views concerning conventional and nuclear warfare, limited or otherwise.
Andrew Cottey’s article “Europe and China’s Sea Disputes” analyzes Europe’s approach to China’s maritime territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas. The author argues that there are three major European approaches toward Chinese maritime disputes: “a normative approach emphasizing the resolution of disputes within the framework of international law; a power balancing approach, led by France and the United Kingdom, involving support for freedom of navigation operations and strengthened bilateral and EU ties with other Asian states; and de facto acquiescence to Chinese advances in the region” (473). The article further notes that these three approaches also follow a sequence. That is, Europe first took the normative approach, and then turned to power balancing when the normative appeal was not effective. Nevertheless, the author suggests that Europe has not taken a unitary stance regarding China’s territorial disputes; rather, divisions exist among European Union (EU) member states, with some members acquiescing to China.
Scholars and policymakers are increasingly focused on understanding how coercion can take place in non-military domains. At the same time, China’s expanding military and economic clout has drawn greater attention to its use of coercive measures. Against this backdrop, Ketian Zhang provides a timely contribution toward understanding the conditions under which states decide to use coercion and which coercive tools they choose to employ, with particular application to understanding China’s use of coercion.
Books on Chinese military issues have traditionally been of interest to a small and inward-looking community of security-minded China-focused academics and policy analysts far from the mainstream of their disciplinary fields and professions. But with China’s growing prominence on the global stage, interest in Chinese defense and strategic matters has also become more widespread. This roundtable on M. Taylor Fravel’s examination of contemporary Chinese military strategy underscores the gradual coming of age of Chinese security studies as an important and relevant component of the general security studies field, and in the process draws attention to a book that is both timely and highly significant.
There are good reasons to study Russia, China, and U.S. hegemony now. Facing common threats from the West, Russia and China have been moving closer since the 2010s. Are they going to finally form an alliance against the United States.? Will these rising powers seriously challenge or shake up the liberal world order that is built on U.S. hegemony? With Russian annexation of Crimea and China’s assertive diplomacy in the East China Sea as well as in the South China Sea, will a military conflict between the hegemon and rising powers be inevitable in the future? In a word, will “the ill winds” from China and Russia, to borrow Larry Diamond’s phrase, pose fatal challenges to U.S. hegemony and world democracy?
On 5 August 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government announced the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which granted the state of Jammu and Kashmir autonomy within India, including a separate constitution, a state flag and control over internal administrative matters. At the same time, Modi’s government also abolished Article 35A, which is part of Article 370, and which mandated that only permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir could own property in the region. Fearing unrest, India deployed tens of thousands of additional troops to the region, and blacked out most communication.