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Introduction: Asia-Pacific resource politics between boom and crisis

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.

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Yuko Aoyama and Balaji Parthasarathy

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Edited by Xiaowei Zang

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Sabrina C.Y. Luk and Peter W. Preston

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Sabrina C.Y. Luk and Peter W. Preston

The shift to the modern world took its initial form in Europe where a unique constellation of economic, social, cultural and political processes ushered into being the world of natural science, industry, states, nations and mass societies. The form of life was very dynamic, and it encouraged both domestic intensification and global expansion. When European traders reached China their demands slowly undermined the long-established, agrarian-based, bureaucratic feudal system centred upon the emperor. The collapse of the system was slow. European powers were crucial players, with their insistent demands for free trade and familiar recourse to violence to secure their goals. The Chinese elite’s eventual choice of a form of modernity was signalled by the 1911 Revolution. However, the revolution was beset by problems: there were internal divisions, a continuing foreign presence and, finally, civil war and outright foreign military invasion. The Chinese elite’s embrace of modernity only found effective form in the 1949 Revolution, the establishment of a party-state system and the creation of New China. It is the nature of the shift to the modern world that informs the logic of politics in China, and the argument presented in this book will contextualize contemporary Chinese politics in this fashion, granting that the present is the out-turn of events in the past and turning to spell out institutional forms (the party-state), political-cultural understandings (the national past, collective memory and the realms of everyday life) and patterns of policy action (ideas-in-practice). In this way the book will unpack the logic of politics in China.
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Sabrina C.Y. Luk and Peter W. Preston

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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.
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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.
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Steven L. Schwarcz