China’s Curious Nonchalance Towards the Indo-Pacific

I have published a new article on Chinese assessments of the Indo-Pacific strategic construct in the June 2019 issue of Survival. Here is an abstract:

A sort of nonchalance has characterized China’s attitude toward the Indo-Pacific strategic construct. This is puzzling given the elevation of the Indo-Pacific to a whole-of-government strategy by the Donald J. Trump administration and the 2017 rebirth of the ‘Quad’. I suggest four reasons or mechanisms that together help to account for this curious attitude: Beijing has learned the lesson of its overreaction to the Barack Obama administration’s Asia rebalance strategy; it believes itself in possession of new strategic leverage to fend off new challenges; it is in command of greater financial resources for regional economic initiatives and is open to third-party collaboration in the Belt and Road Initiative; and there is adequate strategic space for China to navigate the treacherous waters of the Indo-Pacific.

Read the full article here.

Is China capable of providing international stability?

China has become something of a punching bag for Western criticism. At the East Asia Summit in Singapore last year, US Vice President Mike Pence insinuated that China is pushing ‘empire and aggression’ in the Indo-Pacific. Disgruntlement with China dominated November’s Stockholm China Forum meeting, a gathering of American, Chinese and European ambassadors, diplomats, scholars, politicians and business leaders. Whether it’s the ‘debt trap’ of its Belt and Road Initiative, island building in the South China Sea or alleged influence operations, China is causing profound anxiety in Western democracies. Has China become a great disrupter?


China’s Strategic Calculus toward Southeast Asia

I have published a new article on China-Southeast Asia relations in the Fall 2018 issue of The Washington Quarterly. Here is an abstract:

A conventional wisdom among many international observers holds that China’s recent strategy toward Southeast Asia is self-defeating because its assertiveness in the South China Sea has reignited regional fears of China’s power and mistrust of its intentions. This is not Beijing’s judgment. Its assessment is instead that assertiveness has not engendered a regional backlash detrimental to China’s interests. On the contrary, China has been consolidating strategic gains since July 2016. Chinese officials attribute their overall success in Southeast Asia to a new composite strategy of conditional reassurance that combines reassurance with coercion in a Chinese-style dialecticism.

Follow this link to read the full article.


Feng Zhang is a Senior Lecturer at the Australian National University’s Department of International Relations, Deputy Director (Higher Degree by Research) of the ANU’s Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, and a member of the executive committee of the Australian Centre on China in the World based at the ANU. His research focuses on Chinese foreign policy, Asia-Pacific security, and international relations theory. He is also Adjunct Professor at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies in China.

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