A common view within the policy community of East Asia is that the region is in a period of transition. While debates have largely focused on the potential for conflict arising from this transition, there also exist resilient features that could play a critical role in ensuring regional stability amid these changes. The project’s research aims are: (a) to shift the discussion on East Asia focused on war and rivalry to understanding how peace can be achieved or sustained in East Asia; (b) to identify the sources that have sustained peace in the region, including US leadership, the ASEAN and non-ASEAN-led multilateral platforms, defence diplomacy, actions by East Asian states, such as Japan and China, to name just a few; (c) to analyse how to harness these features so that peace is sustained in East Asia; and (d) to come up with policy recommendations for policy and academic communities within East Asia, that would help to ensure peace is sustained in the region. Read More
Organizers: Bhubhindar Singh, GRENPEC East Asia Regional Coordinator and Associate Professor, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
The current corona virus crisis is the latest of a series of challenges that the liberal international order (LIO) has faced during the past several decades. A number of illiberal, populist leaders have emerged in the US, Brazil, India, Turkey, and Hungary in particular who represent the ideological challenge from within. Illiberal Russia and China are taunting the liberal order from outside! As globalization’s appeal appears to wane, liberalism is likely to confront new challenges all across the world in the coming years. Today, we are increasingly talking about de-globalization and a real possibility of states seeking to become more autarkic with protectionist policies, economic nationalism and breaking off from the supply chains that undergird economic globalization. The project is concerned about this challenge to liberalism in view of the global pandemics crisis and the several other challenges that emerged in the deepened globalization era. A special Journal issue is planned.
Organizers: T.V. Paul, McGill University and Markus Kornprobst, Vienna School of International Studies
Great power rivalries are once again at the forefront of international politics, although taking a different form than we witnessed during the Cold War. Following a period of nearly two decades of peace after the collapse of the Soviet Union, what we are witnessing today is a curious resurgence of great power competition in both old and new domains. This include competition in the world’s key regions. These interactions have generated changed dynamics in regional orders in recent years as rivalry becomes the dominant mode of interaction among great powers. Regional states have made use of the opportunities provided by the new great power rivalry to further their security and economic interests. How different are today’s rivalries from the Cold war era when the US-Soviet rivalry defined the contours of many regional conflicts? When the Cold War ended some regional conflicts were settled (e.g. Cambodia, Nicaragua, Southern Africa), while others persisted (Israel-Palestine, South Asia and the Korean Peninsula), showing that systemic forces are only one critical variable that determine conflict and cooperation in the regions. These variations need an assessment on their own merit now that we have the luxury of perspective on both Cold War rivalries and can perceive the contours us new ones. The current great power order is characterized by economically interdependent rising China, using economic, technological and military instruments to gain ascendency, and a declining Russia attempting to shape regional and global orders using the formidable military and diplomatic capacity Moscow retains. The US efforts to restrict China’s goal of achieving hegemony by 2050, especially through the Belt and Road Initiative, asymmetrical technological superiority and militarization of the South China Sea, are generating conflict, but of a different type than we saw during the Cold War. Is the scholarship on systemic/regional interactions, mainly developed during the Cold War era sufficient to understand the new dynamics? What does the past tell us of the present and the future? What new tools we need to explain patterns of regional orders and the impact of systemic rivalries on these orders and vice versa?
Organizers: Harold Trinkunas (Stanford University) and T.V. Paul (McGill University)
Navigating International Order Transition in the Post-pandemic World: National Perceptions and Regional Strategies in the Indo Pacific.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic is viewed as the toughest global challenge since World War II. Although facing a common enemy of mankind, states have still failed to work together in curbing the rampant spread of the virus. The perils of anarchy, the failure of global governance, and the tragedy of great power rivalries are the key reasons why the world is feckless in coping with the current crisis. Strategic competition between the United States and China has intensified during the pandemic, and it might push the two nations into the “Thucydides trap”—the potential military conflict between the hegemon and a rising power. International institutions, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO)—as the backbone of the post-war order—will face a great upheaval in the post-COVID world. The COVID-19 pandemic will not only change, but also accelerate, international order transition in the world. Given the nuclear deterrence under the logic of mutual assured destruction (MAD) among great powers, any hegemonic war between the United States and China seems unthinkable although it is not impossible. Therefore, we might see a different, prolonged, but relatively less violent international order transition period in the post-Covid world in comparison with previous order transition periods, such as the ones following World War I and World War II. How to navigate the turbulence of order transition will be a tough strategic challenge for all nations in the Indo Pacific region in the coming decade. In particular, how do policy elites in different countries perceive the US-China strategic competition? What do they make of the international order transition period? What kind of policy strategies do major powers in the Indo Pacific choose to cope with the challenges during the period of international order transition? This project aims to shed some light on the above questions through intense discussions, dialogues, and debates among leading scholars from the United States, China, Australia, South Korea, India, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.
Organizer: Kai He, Griffith University