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Changing Landscapes


Rajiv Sikri

GLOBAL POWER SHIFTS AND STRATEGIC TRANSITION IN ASIA
By N.S. Sisodia & V. Krishnappa
Academic Foundation, New Delhi, 2009, pp. 394, Rs. 995.00

VOLUME XXXIV NUMBER 8 August 2010

The book under review is a compilation of papers presented at the Asian Security Conference organized by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) in 2008, the tenth such annual event since it was started in 1999. The IDSA should be congratulated for their commendable initiative to hold this annual event, which attracts eminent scholars—and some practitioners of diplomacy—not only from India and other parts of Asia but from across the world to discuss the implications of the gradual but inexorable shift of the fulcrum of global politics to Asia. The title of the book aptly encapsulates this fundamental feature of the changing Asian strategic landscape. Sujit Dutta is right in stating that China remains at the heart of many questions about future peace and stability in Asia. Its amazingly rapid rise has called into question conventional notions about Asian geopolitics. China occupies a central place in the foreign policies of all powers, whether Asian or not. All countries have to work out for themselves how to manage the rise of China. There is also the rise of India. However, as Robert Ayson points out, India’s place in the wider regional picture is important but not yet crucial. The chapters on China deserve to be read first in order to understand China’s own perspective on its rise. Xu Xin draws attention to Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s remark in 2003 that this is a ‘rare period of strategic opportunities’ and to remarks by influential Chinese scholars that the first two decades of the 21st century provide ‘a chance that comes once in a thousand years.’ After heeding Deng Hsiao-Peng’s advice to ‘hide our capabilities and bide our time’ through the nineties and for much of the first decade of the 21st century, Deng’s successors now feel that there is no need to be coy about what China wants.Its ambitions were for long cloaked behind the mantras of ‘peaceful rise’ and ‘harmonious development’. Conscious of its weakness, China realized that it could not challenge the United States and therefore made a tactical alliance with it. However, things have started changing as China’s economic and military clout has increased. Following the successful holding of the Beijing Olympics and the successful weathering—so far—of the global financial and economic crisis, China now believes that it is on the road to becoming a superpower. China is gripped ...


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