Power Shift or Paradigm Shift? China's Rise and Asia's Emerging Security Order

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This essay proposes a new theoretical framework for analyzing the rise of China and its impact on Asian security order. While the rise of China is reshaping Asia's military balance, the region has also witnessed equally important and longer-term changes, especially economic interdependence, multilateral institutions and domestic politics. The implications of these changes are not fully accounted for by the different types of security orders proposed by analysts to describe the implications of China's rise, such as anarchy, hierarchy, hegemony, concert, and community. This essay presents an alternative conceptualization of Asian security order, termed consociational security order (CSO) that draws from different theoretical lenses: defensive realism, institutionalism, and especially consociational theory in comparative politics. Specifying the conditions that make a CSO stable or unstable, the essay then examines the extent to which these conditions can be found in Asia today. Aside from offering a distinctive framework for analyzing China's rise, the CSO framework also offers an analytic device for policymakers and analysts in judging trends and directions in Asian security.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-173
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Studies Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014


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