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Evolving Equations

Prashant Kumar Singh

Edited by Sudhir T. Devare , Swaran Singh and Reena Marwah 
Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group, London, New York, New Delhi, 2012, pp. 413, Rs. 995.00


Emerging China: Prospects for Partnership in Asia analyses and assesses the rise of China and its impact on Asia’s politics and economy, from the perspective of scholars from various countries—especially India. The book is, accordingly, divided into three sections—Asian Multilateralism, Engaging China, and China-India Equations. The first section deals with the issue of ASEAN’s relevance and its centrality, China’s preeminent position in the Asian regional order and a possible role for India. Aileen S.P. Baveria, Meidyatama Suryodiningrat and Ong Keng Yong argue that there can be two views with regard to the ASEAN’s ability to play an effective role in actual regional conflict situations and in facilitating community-building in South East Asia. It, however, remains central to the regional order. It is the nodal point for outside powers’ engagement with the region; apart from initiating various multilateral processes in the region. As a response to China’s rise, ASEAN’s hedging policy of welcoming various countervailing great and middle powers from outside the region will ensure that ASEAN remains the forum in the region where outsiders will engage each other. It is in this context that Indonesia, as Meidyatama argues, looks to India assuming greater responsibilities in various ASEAN processes, though it is unsure about India’s own willingness to do so. D.S. Rajan spells out the differences between Indian and Chinese positions on various issues such as multilateralism and the US role in the region. While China wants to provide leadership in East Asian multilateral institutions (if not leadership, then strategic guidance), India prefers a ‘pluralistic and polycentric’ regional order. Similarly, India opposes multi-level and area-specific sub-regional institutions because they are ‘ineffective’; China is supportive of them, as they serve to undermine the US’s pre-eminent position in the region. In fact, India does not share China’s position on excluding US from the regional order.  John W. Garver, however, provides a reality-check with regard to the optimism about the role India can play in the regional order. He is of the view that since India lags far behind China in economic and military hard power, it will not be able to claim parity in terms of prestige and status with China in international affairs, in the near future. Thus, it is unlikely that India will be an effective countervailing force to China in the Asian order. In fact, according to ...

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