August 04, 2014

Chinese Assertiveness Has Asia on Edge: How to Respond

By Ely Ratner

A recent Pew Research Poll made clear that publics in East Asia are increasingly uneasy about the destabilizing effects of China’s maritime assertiveness. Among the eight countries surveyed—including China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam—majorities in each country said they were concerned that territorial disputes between China and its neighboring countries could lead to a military conflict.

Rather than “China threat theory,” an oft-used phrase in Beijing to deride anxieties about China’s rise, it appears we’re now seeing “China threat reality.” 

Though difficult to poll with similar fidelity, there is little question that 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.

Read the full op-ed at The National Interest.

  • Reports
    • October 7, 2021
    Tangled Threats

    Executive Summary China and North Korea pose intertwined challenges for U.S. and allied policy. The Korean Peninsula constitutes just one area among many in U.S.-China relatio...

    By Jacob Stokes

  • Commentary
    • The Washington Post
    • September 22, 2021
    The Biden administration just stalled China’s advance in the Indo-Pacific

    Australia, by intensifying the military competition with China, could tee up a chain of as yet unforeseen events....

    By Robert D. Kaplan

  • Commentary
    • Asia Times
    • September 11, 2021
    China tariff policies flounder without a strategy

    The White House ought to be asking a series of questions. What problem are we responding to? What are we trying to achieve? How will 301s and tariffs further that?...

    By Van Jackson

  • Commentary
    • Inkstick
    • September 9, 2021
    Neoliberals, Anti-imperialists, and the China Question

    If there are arguments to be made in favor of cooperation with China, or to justify not sweating China’s accumulation of power, they’re probably best made on grounds other tha...

    By Van Jackson

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia