Jonathan Holslag On world order and disorder

Hedging the Hard Way: Russia’s Response to World Disorder

This paper posits that Russia’s role during the Ukrainian Crisis presaged a strategy of hard hedging. Confronted with the apparent threat of growing influence of the West and growing influence of China, Russia has responded with a policy of hard hedging that is characterized by an emphasis on military power, sovereignty and autonomy. The paper... read more

Geoeconomics in a globalized world: the case of China’s export policy

This paper explains why and how China seeks to continue to promote export-driven industrialization. This way, it comes as a corrective to the widespread assumption that the Chinese government is readying to rebalance its growth from investment and export to more domestic consumption. But the paper also presents an important case of a largely geoeconomics... read more

Unequal partnerships and open doors: probing China’s economic ambitions in Asia

One of the most important arguments with which China has sought to develop amicable relations with its neighbours has been the promise of economic benefits. Yet, this paper argues, these gains have remained limited. In spite of limited available data, the paper shows that China’s contribution to the rest of Asia’s GDP has been small... read more

The smart revisionist

China’s new leadership has entered the scene with yet another security concept. President Xi Jinping called his ”common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable”. It reiterates the idea that China is a constructive power, willing to strike a compromise and to advance cooperation. This essay sets off by arguing that there is nothing new in the security... read more

Can India Balance?

Disregarding even the nationalist line of India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the country has important strategic and economic reasons to balance against China. Delhi already made several attempts to do so: by strengthening its military capabilities, stepping up its regional diplomacy and by trying to rival China’s industrial prowess. This paper questions, though, whether India is also able to balance. This is because India got stuck between non-alignment and non-performance. On the one hand, it resists the prospect of a new coalition that checks China from the maritime fringes of Eurasia. On the other hand, it has failed... read more

The Paper Partnership: Security in the Sino-European Relations

This paper evaluates to what degree Europe and China managed to cooperate on security affairs since the establishment of their strategic partnership in 2003. While exchanges have multiplied and a few first concrete steps are evaluated positively, the overall balance remains disappointing, in Beijing’s view. In spite of many common interests, there is no evidence... read more

Unravelling Harmony

In the best classic liberalist tradition, the Chinese government nurtured a sense of economic harmony between Europe and China. This paper shows that a mutually beneficial partnership has not emerged. Departing from a detailed six-digit commodity export dataset, it demonstrates that the division of labour has blurred. Furthermore, Europe’s growing deficits on the current account... read more

China and the coups: Coping with political instability in Africa

Examining five coups that occurred in Africa between 2003 and 2010, this article argues that China did not see the coups as major threats to its interests, but accepted instability as a part of doing business in Africa. It remained sceptical of democracy and continued to display conservative self-restraint, a preference for unilateralism, and a... read more

Getting our way in the Eurasian Sea

The waters around the Eurasian continent are turning into a single maritime ringway that gets ever more crowded, connected, and contested. While the great powers have an interest in joining forces to maintain stability in this Eurasian Sea, strategic distrust remains too stubborn an impediment. It is in the Pacific Corridor that maritime disputes seem... read more

The reluctant pretender: China’s evolving presence in the Indian Ocean,

This paper posits that despite various traditional and non-traditional threats, the Indian Ocean is not the foremost concern in China’s quest for maritime security. As a result, China’s efforts to make foray beyond the Strait of Malacca remain limited. Three patterns in its posturing can be distinguished. First, it seeks to deter India – its... read more