Why is the United States pursuing competitive strategies in response to China’s rise, while responding to the rise of India with cooperative strategies? Since a rising power’s interests may change in the future along with its growing power, can international relations theory help us understand why the system leader differs in its response to different rising powers? The speaker argues that explanations based on economic interdependence, variations in domestic regime-type, and the balance-of-power logic cannot fully explain the American response to Asia’s rising powers. Therefore, he offers a ‘systemic’ argument based on three factors – (i) the structural context accompanying the rise of China and India (polarity, global economy, and region); (ii) the type of international change being sought by them (territory, global governance, and status), and; (iii) the means used in pursuit of these changes (political, economic, and military) – to explain America’s divergent response. This ‘systemic’ argument has implications for international relations theory and the emerging world order. American strategy towards China and India is ultimately about ensuring America’s status as the primus inter pares in an increasingly multipolar Asia.
About the Speaker
Manjeet S. Pardesi is a Senior Lecturer in the Political Science and International Relations Programme and the Asia Research Fellow at the Centre for Strategic Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. He obtained his PhD in Political Science from Indiana University, Bloomington (IUB). His research interests include international relations in world history, great power politics, strategic rivalries, Asian security, and Indian foreign policy. He has an MSc in Strategic Studies from the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (now the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies or RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. He obtained his BEng (Electrical & Electronic) from NTU as well. He is currently the Managing Editor of the journal Asian Security (June 2018—May 2021). He is a co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of India’s National Security (Oxford, 2018) and India’s Military Modernization: Challenges and Prospects (Oxford, 2014). His articles have appeared in European Journal of International Relations, Security Studies, Survival, Asian Security, Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, International Studies Perspectives, Nonproliferation Review, Air & Space Power Journal (of the United States Air Force), The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, World Policy Journal, India Review, Defense and Security Analysis, and in several edited book volumes. He has also written commentaries on strategic issues, including the Revolution in Military Affairs and India’s foreign/security policy, which have appeared in The Straits Times (Singapore), The Korea Herald (South Korea), The Indian Express (India), Daily News & Analysis (India), The Times of India (India), Asia Times Online, and on several blogs online.