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The Challenge of the Rise of China and the Response from Southeast Asia

02 May 2018

Prof. Baladas Ghoshal

Venue: Seminar Room, ICS
Time: 3:00 PM

Abstract

For ASEAN countries, the rise of China poses multiple challenges: more important ones are Beijing’s military assertiveness particularly in the South China Sea (SCS) and the massive economic dominance of the region through its trade, investment and infrastructure projects. Whereas the military challenge are perceived to be an existential threat for those that have disputes with China, the economic presence of China are viewed as an opportunity, at least  in the short term period, though its long term consequences has also created apprehensions in some quarters of the economic elite of the region. On the South China Sea issue, China has not only continued with its artificial island-building and militarization of those features, but has also been successful in creating a divide within the ASEAN countries between those that have disputes with China and those who do not, playing one against the other preventing a common stand on the issue. Undoubtedly, governments in the region are at least as concerned as their publics and have already begun taking measures to prepare for, and if necessary defend against, further Chinese attempts at economic, military and diplomatic coercion. Strategies for responding to Chinese assertiveness certainly differ from capital to capital, but all can be characterized as portfolio strategies that simultaneously pursue multiple avenues to deal with a country that has overwhelming advantages in size and wealth. The principal elements of these portfolio strategies include the following: Military modernization; Enhanced cooperation with the United States; Intra-Asian security partnerships; Regional institutions and international law: Engagement with China and finally, increasing intra-ASEAN trade and enhancing ASEAN economic integration While none of these approaches is, in and of itself, likely sufficient to shape China’s behaviour, multifaceted portfolio strategies may harbour the potential to contribute to a more stable and peaceful region.

About the Speaker

Baladas Ghoshal, currently Secretary General and Director (Academic) Society for Indian Ocean Studies; until recently ICCR Chair in Indian Studies at the Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow, is also honorary Distinguished Fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. Professor Ghoshal is a former Professor of Southeast Asia and South-West Pacific Studies and Chairman of the Centre for South and Southeast Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Professor Ghoshal is a doyen in Southeast Asian Studies programme in India. He has published extensively on Indonesian politics, ASEAN and regional security issues; reads, writes and speaks Malay and Bahasa Indonesia. His most recent publications are a book on India-Indonesia Relations published by the Institute of South Asian Studies, Singapore, and a monograph on China’s Perception of India’s Look East Policy, brought out by Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.

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