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East Asia and the "Constrainment" of China
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East Asia and the "Constrainment" of China
Gerald Segal

Gerald Segal is a Senior Fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Director of the Economic and Social Research Councils Pacific Asia Programme, and Co-chairman of the European Council for Security Cooperation in Asia-Pacific.

This work is the result of extensive interviews in nearly every country in East Asia in 1994-95. All interviews were on a confidential basis. But the author would like to thank the following people for commenting on all, or parts of an earlier draft of this article: Sidney Bearman, Barry Buzan, Bates Gill, Paul Godwin, Harlan Jencks, Ellis Joffe, Gary Klintworth, Michael Leifer, Paul Monk, Jonathan Pollack, Michael Swaine, David Shambaugh, Allen Whiting, and the anonymous reviewers for International Security.


1. For example see Kishore Mahbubani, "The Pacific Impulse," Survival, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Spring 1995); James Richardson, "East Asian Stability," The National Interest, No. 38 (Winter 1994-95); Morton Abramowitz, "Pacific Century: Myth or Reality," Contemporary Southeast Asia, Vol. 15, No. 3 (December 1993). Some of the engagement school is struggling with ways to add a dose of realism. See the notion of "conditional engagement" and "virtual alliances" as discussed in a study program on China currently underway in the Council on Foreign Relations. I am grateful to Jim Shinn of the Council for an opportunity to see the work in progress.

2. Paul Dibb, Towards a New Balance of Power in Asia, Adelphi Paper No. 295 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies [IISS]/Oxford University Press, May 1995). See related arguments in Richard K. Betts, "Wealth, Power and Instability: East Asia and the United States after the Cold War," International Security, Vol. 18, No. 3 (Winter 1993-94); Aaron Friedberg, "Ripe for Rivalry: Prospects for Peace in a Multi-polar Asia," ibid.; and Barry Buzan and Gerald Segal, "Rethinking East Asian Security," Survival, Vol. 36 No. 2 (Summer 1994). These issues have become a trendy and sometimes vibrant focus of debate. See, e.g., Shannon Selin, Asia-Pacific Arms Buildup, Working Paper No. 6 (Vancouver: University of British Colombia, Institute of International Relations (1994); Andrew Mack and Pauline Kerr, "The Evolving Security Discussions in the Asia-Pacific," The Washington Quarterly, Vol. 18, No. 1 (1995); and Jonathan Pollack, "Sources of Instability and Conflict in Northeast Asia," Arms Control Today, November 1994.

3. Gerald Segal, China Changes Shape, Adelphi Paper No. 287 (London: IISS/Oxford University Press, March 1994). On the optimist side see William Overholt, The Rise of China (New York: Norton, 1993); and most recently, Jim Rohwer, Asia Rising (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995). For a range of academic views see Thomas Robinson and David Shambaugh, eds., Chinese Foreign Policy (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1994).

4. Figure 1 and Table 1 were produced by Digby Waller, the Defence Economist at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

5. Perhaps it is precisely because the European theater seems so susceptible to complex balances, and East Asia seems so unsuited, that the European balances have received so much analytical attention, and East Asian balances are virtually virgin analytical territory. Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994); Richard Rosecrance, "A New Concert of Powers," Foreign Affairs, Vol. 71, No. 2 (Spring 1992), pp. 64-82; Coral Bell, The Post-Soviet World (Canberra: Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, 1992); John Mearsheimer, "Back to the Future: Instability in Europe After the Cold War," International Security, Vol. 15, No. 1 (Summer 1990), pp. 5-56. See also William Pfaff, The Wrath of Nations (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993).

6. Gerald Segal, Rethinking the Pacific (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1990).

7. The process and problems of Chinese decentralization are discussed in David Goodman and Gerald Segal, eds., China Deconstructs (London: Routledge, 1994).

8. Paul Smith, "The Strategic Implications of Chinese Emigration," Survival, Vol. 36, No. 2 (Summer 1994).

9. Michael Bradshaw, The Economic Effects of Soviet Dissolution (London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1993); and Bradshaw, Siberia in a Time of Change, No. 2171 (London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 1992). See also Andre Voskressenski, "Current Concepts of Sino-Russian Relations and Frontier Problems in Russia and China," Central Asian Survey, Vol. 13, No. 3...