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  • WYSS Marco (4)
  • DIAN Matteo (3)
  • BÉRAUD-SUDREAU Lucie (2)
  • LEQUESNE Christian (2)
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This article delivers the first post-Cold War history of how France – the European power with the largest political-military footprint in the Asia-Pacific – has responded to the national security challenges posed by the rise of China. Based upon a unique body of primary sources (80 interviews conducted in Europe, the Asia-Pacific and the United States; declassified archival documents; and leaked diplomatic cables), it shows that China’s growing assertiveness after 2009 (and national policymakers’ perceptions thereof) has been the key driver of change in French security policy in the region, pulling France strategically into the Asia-Pacific. Specifically, growing threat perceptions of China’s rise – coupled with steadily rising regional economic interests – have led Paris to forge a cohesive policy framework, the Indo-Pacific strategy, and to bolster the political-military dimension of its regional presence. By investigating this key yet neglected dimension of French and European security policies, and by leveraging a unique body of primary written and oral sources, this study fills an important gap in the scholarly literature on both European and Asia-Pacific security dynamics. The findings of this article also shed new light on the political and military assets that France can bring to bear in the formulation of a common EU security policy toward the Asia-Pacific and on the implications thereof for the prospect of a transatlantic strategy vis-à-vis China.

Publication date 2021-09-06 Collection Robert Schuman Centre Policy Briefs : 2021/32 (July 2021)
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The re-emergence of China as a great power and the emerging US-China competition have marked the return of great power rivalry in world politics, with wide-ranging implications for Europeans. In particular, three overarching trends have shaped the ways in which Europeans have confronted China’s rise. First, in the context of the shifting centre of strategic gravity of world politics from the Atlantic to the Asia-Pacific, the gradual retrenchment of the United States (US) from Europe since the end of the Cold War – coupled with growing doubts about the credibility of US commitments to the continent – has incited Europeans to provide for their own security.1 Furthermore, sustained by expanding economic, military and technological capabilities, the PRC has displayed an increasingly assertive foreign policy both in the Asia-Pacific and in Europe since the 2010s, which impinges on a broad range of European diplomatic, security and economic interests.2 Third, the rising global competition between the United States and China has become a structural feature of great power politics in the 21st century, with ramifications across different regions, including Europe.3 In short, stuck between a rock and a hard place, Europeans increasingly doubt the robustness of their US ally’s commitment to their security while grappling with China’s expanding clout and influence in the larger context of mounting Sino-American rivalry – and they are therefore compelled to define their own position regarding it.

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Europe's security landscape has changed dramatically in the past decade amid Russia's resurgence, mounting doubts about the long-term reliability of the U.S. security commitment, and Europe's growing aspiration for strategic autonomy. This changed security landscape raises an important counterfactual question: Could Europeans develop an autonomous defense capacity if the United States withdrew completely from Europe? The answer to this question has major implications for a range of policy issues and for the ongoing U.S. grand strategy debate in light of the prominent argument by U.S. “restraint” scholars that Europe can easily defend itself. Addressing this question requires an examination of the historical evolution as well as the current and likely future state of European interests and defense capacity. It shows that any European effort to achieve strategic autonomy would be fundamentally hampered by two mutually reinforcing constraints: “strategic cacophony,” namely profound, continent-wide divergences across all domains of national defense policies—most notably, threat perceptions; and severe military capacity shortfalls that would be very costly and time-consuming to close. As a result, Europeans are highly unlikely to develop an autonomous defense capacity anytime soon, even if the United States were to fully withdraw from the continent.

in Survival Publication date 2021-02-12
BROOKS Stephen G
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Europe is unable to pool and effectively employ military power due to its lack of an integrated command structure and its deficient C4ISR capacity.

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Throughout history, Great Powers have devised balancing strategies aimed at checking the ambitions of rival Great Powers. To do that, they have sought to enter and mobilize alliances and security partnerships with secondary states. Yet, the influence of secondary states on the balancing strategies of Great Powers remains largely underestimated in the International Relations literature. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we posit that secondary state preferences play a key enabling or constraining role in shaping the balancing choices of Great Powers. We focus specifically on how the adoption of hedging strategies on the part of secondary states affects the balancing strategies of established Great Powers. We argue that when secondary states adopt a hedging strategy established Great Powers are incentivized to engage in what we call ‘covert balancing’. Covert balancing occurs when an established Great Power conceals its security cooperation with a secondary state beneath a cover that is seemingly unrelated to balancing a rising Great Power, thus working around the secondary state's hedging strategy while at the same time helping generate a latent capacity to balance. We probe our argument by examining US balancing strategy against China in the Asia–Pacific.

The US-led system of alliances and defence partnerships in East Asia has undergone profound change since the end of the Cold War. The so-called “hub-and-spokes” system of bilateral alliances has been gradually supplemented by a “networked security architecture”—a network of interwoven bilateral, minilateral and multilateral defence arrangements between the US and its regional allies and partners, in which China is also included through a variety of cooperation channels. This paper shows that, from Washington’s perspective, the networked security architecture is not merely a means to externally balance a revisionist China, as Structural Realist analyses contend. Rather, the US has sought to broaden the composition of the US-led hegemonic order in East Asia by diversifying the range of defence ties with and amongst its allies and partners, but also by seeking to include the PRC in it. Thereby, Washington aims to channel and shape the trajectory of China’s rise within the US-led hegemonic order, from a position of pre-eminence, through a mixture of negative and positive incentives (resistance and accommodation) with the ultimate goal of upholding the existing hegemonic order. To empirically substantiate this argument, the paper relies on a large body of elite interviews with senior US policymakers.

in International Politics Edited by DIAN Matteo, MEIJER Hugo Publication date 2020-04
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This Special Issue aims to explain the transition from the Cold War US-led system of exclusive bilateral alliances in East Asia (or “hub-and-spokes” system) into a “networked security architecture”, i.e. a network of interwoven bilateral, minilateral and multilateral defence arrangements between the US and its regional allies and partners, and that also partly includes China. Drawing from the English School of International Relations, it challenges dominant Structural Realist explanations which interpret such development as a form of external balancing against a revisionist China. By contrast, this Special Issue submits that China’s selective contestation of the US-led hegemonic order in East Asia has sparked a renegotiation of such order among regional powers, which has resulted in the restructuring of the underlying alliances and defence partnerships into a networked security architecture. Specifically, regional powers have sought to broaden the composition of the US-led hegemonic order in East Asia—by diversifying the range of defence ties between US allies and partners, but also by seeking to include the PRC in it. Thereby, rather than merely balancing the People’s Republic of China, they have sought to channel the trajectory of China’s rise within this hegemonic order through a mixture of resistance and accommodation.

in International Politics Publication date 2020-04
DIAN Matteo
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This introductory paper develops the theoretical framework and central argument of the Special Issue "Networking hegemony".

in International Politics Edited by DIAN Matteo, MEIJER Hugo Publication date 2019-10-16
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This Special Issue aims to explain the transition from the Cold War US-led system of exclusive bilateral alliances in East Asia (or “hub-and-spokes” system) into a “networked security architecture”, i.e. a network of interwoven bilateral, minilateral and multilateral defence arrangements between the US and its regional allies and partners, and that also partly includes China. Drawing from the English School of International Relations, it challenges dominant Structural Realist explanations which interpret such development as a form of external balancing against a revisionist China. By contrast, this Special Issue submits that China’s selective contestation of the US-led hegemonic order in East Asia has sparked a renegotiation of such order among regional powers, which has resulted in the restructuring of the underlying alliances and defence partnerships into a networked security architecture. Specifically, regional powers have sought to broaden the composition of the US-led hegemonic order in East Asia—by diversifying the range of defence ties between US allies and partners, but also by seeking to include the PRC in it. Thereby, rather than merely balancing the People’s Republic of China, they have sought to channel the trajectory of China’s rise within this hegemonic order through a mixture of resistance and accommodation. This introductory paper develops the theoretical framework and central argument of the Special Issue.

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The US-led system of alliances and defence partnerships in East Asia has undergone profound change since the end of the Cold War. The so-called “hub-and-spokes” system of bilateral alliances has been gradually supplemented by a “networked security architecture”—a network of interwoven bilateral, minilateral and multilateral defence arrangements between the US and its regional allies and partners, in which China is also included through a variety of cooperation channels. This paper shows that, from Washington’s perspective, the networked security architecture is not merely a means to externally balance a revisionist China, as Structural Realist analyses contend. Rather, the US has sought to broaden the composition of the US-led hegemonic order in East Asia by diversifying the range of defence ties with and amongst its allies and partners, but also by seeking to include the PRC in it. Thereby, Washington aims to channel and shape the trajectory of China’s rise within the US-led hegemonic order, from a position of pre-eminence, through a mixture of negative and positive incentives (resistance and accommodation) with the ultimate goal of upholding the existing hegemonic order. To empirically substantiate this argument, the paper relies on a large body of elite interviews with senior US policymakers.

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