Archive for October, 2010

Exploring India’s Foreign Policy Debates

By Nikola Mirilovic

Among the most contested questions in Indian foreign policy today are those related to the extent and type of power that India should use to project itself internationally. Should India rely on military, economic or ideational power? How should Indian policymakers make trade-offs between military, economic and normative objectives? What mechanisms does India prefer for global leadership?

Deepa Ollapally and Rajesh Rajagopalan of the Rising Powers Initiative have classified India’s domestic debates about the country’s foreign policy into three main schools of thought: hyper-power, national-power and liberal power proponents.

The hyper-power proponents view military power as not only a means to an end, but as an end in and of itself. They claim that extensive military power is a necessary component of India’s greatness. This is a minority perspective. National-power proponents also advocate greater military strength and expenditures, but they view them as means of achieving other goals. Finally, the proponents of the liberal power perspective argue that hard power is not an effective means of projecting India’s influence abroad, and that trade and diplomacy should be relied on instead. (more…)

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Senkakus/Diaoyu incident: reinforced trends or a harbinger of change?

The jury is still out on how Japan-China relations will be affected by their recent dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. By now we have seen efforts on both sides to defuse tensions, but China’s intentions remain unclear, while Japan might choose to respond with more robust defense measures.

Aside from developments in the region’s security structure, a key variable to observe is the shifting perceptions of domestic actors in both countries, says Mike Mochizuki in a recent interview in The Oriental Economist.

In Japan, the security policy community had already been concerned about China’s increasingly assertive behavior. However, Mochizuki notes,

“The real question is whether this incident will convince others in Japan: those that have, up to now, been less concerned about Chinese military activities and were much more focused on the benefits that the Chinese market gives to the Japanese economy. If this incident has changed [their] perceptions, that would be a sea change.”

The obscurity of China’s decision-making process makes it more difficult to determine what is driving China’s behavior, and whether political competition between domestic actors can explain the mix of restraint and assertiveness we see from China. (more…)

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Besides the Realists, who is shaping China’s foreign policy?

The Wall Street Journal characterizes China’s recent assertiveness in the region as “a new state of mind,” citing the recent island dispute with Japan, China’s backing of North Korea in the Cheonan incident, and aggressive behaviors in the South China Sea.  The WSJ writes in its Oct. 1 editorial:

Ever since Deng Xiaoping dumped the Marxist half of Marxism-Leninism some 30 years ago, the Chinese regime has depended on the twin pillars of economic growth and nationalism for its legitimacy. Usually the world sees more of the former than the latter. Perhaps not anymore.

As social pressures build within China, some in the leadership may be falling back on one of their core claims to legitimacy—that only the Communist Party can restore China’s dignity after a “century of humiliation” at the hands of foreign powers.

Indeed, there are reasons to be concerned about rising Chinese nationalism and its implications for China foreign policy behaviors. However, it is just one of many dimensions of the domestic debates in China that are shaping the country’s view of itself in the world. Professors David Shambaugh and Ren Xiao of the Rising Powers Initiative have identified a range of seven schools of thought within China: Nativists, Realists, Major Powers, Asia First, Global South, Selective Multi-lateralists and Globalists.

China’s international relations debates tend to revolve around the characteristics of the international system and China’s identity within that system. (more…)

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