The centre of the global economy today resides in Asia, not Europe or North America. According to the International Monetary Fund, Asia in 2016 accounted for 40 per cent of global GDP (Lagarde 2016). As Asia also accounts for much of global economic growth in recent years, developments in the region are therefore central to the global economic outlook and for formulating policies around the world (IMF 2015: 1). Asia’s remarkable economic rise is led by China, which had a GDP of around US$11.4 trillion in 2016, making it the second largest economy in the world after the United States. Despite economic stagnation since the 1990s, Japan in 2016 remained the world’s third largest economy, with a GDP of about US$4.7 trillion. Other significant economic powerhouses in Asia include India and South Korea (IMF 2016). The trend is quite clear: Asia is on course to regain the dominant economic position it held before the Industrial Revolution in Europe (ADB n.d.). The maintenance of stability in Asia has therefore become pivotal to global stability; conversely, regional instability will have deep, global consequences. Since the surrender of Japan in 1945 at the end of the Second World War, the United States has been deeply engaged in Asia, and has maintained a form of hegemony over the region, though its failure in the Vietnam War demonstrated the limits of its dominance. The US role has been mostly seen as positive, at least to its allies and the non-communist states in Asia, as it has, through its hubs and spokes system of alliances and military presence, exercised sufficient power to maintain general stability in the region. In turn, this has facilitated Asia’s economic rise (Beeson 2011).
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Andrew T.H. Tan
The Political Economy of Conflict and Cooperation
Jeffrey D. Wilson
What explains the emergence of international resource conflicts in the Asia-Pacific during the last decade? This chapter first introduces the empirical scope of this book – providing a broad overview of the global resource boom of the 2000s, the resource security challenges it has posed, and emerging patterns of inter-governmental conflict these have engendered. It then reviews existing theoretical approaches to international resource politics, outlining how these fail to move beyond the systemic level to probe the wider range of factors at both the international and domestic levels driving government’s policy behaviour. It argues that to adequately explain these dynamics, it is necessary to examine why resource interdependence has become a securitised policy domain, and the political-economic factors driving this shift.
Andrew T. H. Tan
The rise of China and the challenge it poses to US dominance is regarded as one of the most important issues in international relations today due to its implications not just on the dominant position of the United States but also the stability of the evolving post–Cold War international system. The relationship between the world’s two largest economies is crucial. Should they succeed in coming to an understanding, war will be avoided and a new regional and global equilibrium will be the result. While Henry Kissinger concluded that ‘the appropriate label for the Sino–American relationship is less partnership than co-evolution’ the process of working out the entente cordiale that would underpin such a co-evolution is complicated by a number of serious challenges, such as economic disputes, human rights issues, China’s emerging military power, the rise of Chinese nationalism, the apprehensions in Washington over China’s rise and growing Chinese assertiveness in Asia. It remains to be seen if an entente cordiale could be achieved before growing mutual mistrust and misperception lead to open conflict.
Andrew T. H. Tan
How to understand and explain the evolutions as well as predict the future directions of bilateral relations between the United States and China has become an imperative task for both policy-makers and academic scholars. Borrowing insights from three mainstream international relations (IR) theories, realism, liberalism and constructivism, this chapter suggests a three-stage, perceptual model of ‘threat–interest’ to explore the dynamics of Sino–US relations from 1949 to 2015. It argues that the nature of US–China relations, either cooperation or competition, is mainly shaped by the perceptions of leaders regarding security threats and economic interests between the two nations. How to manage their perceptions regarding each other and how to find a balance between cooperation and competition are the key issues for leaders in both the United States and China to manage their bilateral relations in the future. The next decade or two may be the best or worst times for US–China relations.