Campus News

Examining China from ‘over the fence’

China is often characterised as a superpower in the making. Indeed, some argue that China will soon catch up and then surpass the United States in economic and ultimately military power. The rise of China is presented from a fresh perspective in Beijing’s Power and China’s Borders: Twenty Neighbors in Asia, a new book with a strong UOW connection.

The book, co-edited by UOW’s Professor Clive Schofield, Director of research at the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS), together with Professor Bruce Elleman of the United States Naval War College and Professor Stephen Kotkin of Princeton University, views changes in China through the lens of its immediate neighbours. The book brings together historians, geographers, political scientists, and legal scholars to examine each of China's twenty land or sea borders.

Professor Schofield noted that while many recent contributions to the burgeoning literature on China focus on its potential to take on superpower status, few discuss the limits to China’s great power ambitions.

“It is a little-remarked fact that China has more neighbouring states than any other country in the world”, he said.

Professor Schofield suggested that while the PRC has undoubtedly made significant, and arguably remarkable, progress over the past two decades and more in terms of both transforming its bilateral relationships with its neighbours and formally settling its international boundaries, many of China’s neighbours have yet to settle completely their mutual international boundaries with the Beijing government. Further, the vast majority of its potential maritime boundaries remain unsettled.

“In many ways these states are on the ‘front line’ of China’s rise and analysis from their perspectives offers fresh insights on the trajectory of Beijing’s growing power. Even when formally settled, China’s boundaries provide an important interface with neighbouring states and the wider international community,” he said.

“Opportunities for transboundary cooperation as well as friction, disputes, and conflict abound along China’s borders. Overall, the fact that China has so many neighbouring States to deal with at once represents both an opportunity and a significant potential impediment to China’s ongoing ‘great power’ rise.”

Professor Schofield contributed four chapters to the collection, including two with co-authors Dr Lowell Bautista, Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow at ANCORS and Andi Arsana, PhD candidate at ANCORS and Lecturer at the University of Gadjah Mada, Indonesia.

The book is published with U.S. publisher M.E. Sharp as part of their prestigious Northeast Asia series. Click here for further details.

Last reviewed: 10 December, 2012

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