Think Tank (1/2021)
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Sources of Peace in East Asia
29 Jan 2021

A virtual workshop on “Sources of Peace in East Asia” was held on 29 January 2021. The Regional Security Architecture Programme (RSAP), a research programme within the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies at RSIS, organised the workshop as part of the collaborative efforts of the Global Research Network on Peaceful Change (GRENPEC) – a worldwide research network comprising scholars and institutions engaged in the study of peaceful change at the international and regional levels.

Dr Sarah Teo, Research Fellow and Coordinator of RSAP, and Prof T.V. Paul, James McGill Professor of International Relations at the Department of Political Science, McGill University, Canada, and Founding Director of GRENPEC, delivered the opening remarks. The session was attended by more than 20 participants comprising mainly academics and members from think tank communities in Singapore and the world over.

In the first panel titled “Peaceful Change in East Asia”, participants debated the concept and phenomenon of peaceful change in East Asia through different lenses of the international relations theories of realism, liberalism, and constructivism.

Discussion in the second panel titled “China and Peaceful Change” focused on whether China’s rise would lead to inevitable war with the current superpower – the United States – as well as Taiwan’s reunification with mainland China.

In the final panel on “Regional and Middle Powers as Sources of Peaceful Change”, there were differing views on the role of regional middle powers in developing institutions, and fostering interdependent economic activity in promoting peaceful change in the region.

The ensuing discussions were focused on whether a geographical framework was appropriate for analysing peaceful change in the region; whether leadership, nuclear deterrence, or socio-political issues matter in the rivalry between the United States and China; the extent to which institutions can shape peaceful change; and the characteristics a country should possess to be considered a middle power.

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