The Rise of China and the New East Asian Balance of Power

Date: Tuesday, 24 March 2020
Time: 5:30-6:30pm

HMLT002, Hugh McKenzie Building, Kelburn Campus, Victoria University of Wellington (map).


The East Asian balance of power is rapidly changing.  The Chinese Navy now possesses a larger fleet than the United States Navy and it possesses advanced military technologies.  As China has expanded its naval capabilities, the U.S. Navy has experienced relative decline and the end of its maritime hegemony in East Asia.  U.S. declining capabilities has prompted East Asia’s secondary powers to reconsider their alignments within the U.S.-China great power competition; they are rapidly moving toward equidistance between the great powers.  Even as the United States has resisted China’s rise inside East Asian waters, there is little it can do to reverse the current trend in the power transition.  Indo-Pacific strategy reflects an acknowledgement of the changing East Asian balance of power and it is an effort to develop new defense capabilities outside East Asia’s internal seas.  A bipolar region is emerging, with consequences for security policies throughout Asia.

Portrait of Professor Robert Ross

About the speaker

Professor Robert Ross is Professor of Political Science at Boston College, Associate and Executive Committee member, John King Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University in 1984.  From 2007 to 2016, he was Adjunct Professor, Institute for Defence Studies, Norwegian Defence University College. He has taught at Columbia University and at the University of Washington.

In 1989 Professor Ross was a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.  In 1994-1995 he was Fulbright Professor at the Chinese Foreign Affairs College, in 2003 he was a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute of International Strategic Studies, Tsinghua University, Beijing, and in 2014 was Visiting Scholar, School of International Relations, Peking University.  In 2009 he was Visiting Scholar, Institute for Strategy, Royal Danish Defence College.

Professor Ross's research focuses on Chinese security policy, East Asian security, and U.S.-China relations.  His recent publications include Strategic Adjustment and the Rise of China:  Power and Politics in East Asia; China in the Era of Xi Jinping: Domestic and Foreign Policy Challenges; and Chinese Security Policy: Structure, Power, and Politics.  His other major works include China’s Ascent: Power, Security, and the Future of International Politics; Normalization of U.S.-China Relations: An International History; Great Wall and Empty Fortress: China’s Search for Security; Negotiating Cooperation: U.S.-China Relations, 1969-1989; and The Indochina Tangle: China's Vietnam Policy, 1975-1979.

The Rise of China and the New East Asian Balance of Power (PDF)

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