asia's new geopolitics essays on reshaping the indo pacific

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Asia's New Geopolitics: Essays on Reshaping the Indo-Pacific

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Asia's New Geopolitics: Essays on Reshaping the Indo-Pacific Hardcover – May 1, 2020

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The Indo-Pacific is fast becoming the world's dominant region. As it grows in power and wealth, geopolitical competition has reemerged, threatening future stability not merely in Asia but around the globe.

China is aggressive and uncooperative, and increasingly expects the world to bend to its wishes. The focus on Sino-US competition for global power has obscured "Asia's other great game": the rivalry between Japan and China. A modernizing India risks missing out on the energies and talents of millions of its women, potentially hampering the broader role it can play in the world. And in North Korea, the most frightening question raised by Kim Jong-un's pursuit of the ultimate weapon is also the simplest: can he control his nukes?

In  Asia's New Geopolitics: Essays on Reshaping the Indo-Pacific , Michael R. Auslin examines these and other key issues transforming the Indo-Pacific and the broader world. He also explores the history of American strategy in Asia from the 18th century through today.

Taken together, Auslin's essays convey the richness and diversity of the region: with more than three billion people, the Indo-Pacific contains over half of the global population, including the world's two most populous nations: India and China. In a riveting final chapter, Auslin imagines a war between America and China in a bid for regional hegemony and what this conflict might look like.

  • Print length 262 pages
  • Language English
  • Publisher Hoover Institution Press
  • Publication date May 1, 2020
  • Dimensions 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • ISBN-10 0817923241
  • ISBN-13 978-0817923242
  • See all details

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  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Hoover Institution Press (May 1, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 262 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0817923241
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0817923242
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.24 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • #1,132 in India History
  • #1,782 in Asian Politics
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About the author

Michael r. auslin.

Michael Auslin, PhD, a historian and geopolitical analyst, is the inaugural Payson J. Treat Distinguished Research Fellow in Contemporary Asia at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and is also a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. The best-selling author of four non-fiction books, he is a longtime contributor to the Wall Street Journal, and his writing appears in The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, Politico, and National Review, among other leading publications. Formerly an associate professor of history at Yale, he was a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and Fulbright Scholar, among other awards. He appears frequently in U.S. and foreign media, and is the Vice Chairman of the Wilton Park USA Foundation.

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Asia’s New Geopolitics

As Asia rises, geopolitical competition once again threatens its future. China’s aggressiveness, Sino-Japanese rivalry, regional territorial disputes, and North Korea’s nuclear weapons are shaping the Indo-Pacific and the world.

Asia's New Geopolitics

Publication date: May 2020

“The wonderful chapter on Japan is alone worth the price of the book.”

“Auslin’s book is a must-read for anyone interested in the question of how the U.S. can respond to China’s ambitions to dominate East and South Asia.”

The Indo-Pacific is fast becoming the world’s dominant region. Now, as it grows in power and wealth, geopolitical competition has reemerged, threatening future stability not merely in Asia but around the globe.

China is aggressive and uncooperative, and increasingly expects the world to bend to its wishes. The focus on Sino-US competition for global power has obscured “Asia’s other great game”: the rivalry between Japan and China. A modernizing India risks missing out on the energies and talents of millions of its women, potentially hampering the broader role it can play in the world. And in North Korea, the most frightening question raised by Kim Jong-un’s pursuit of the ultimate weapon is also the simplest: can he control his nukes?

In Asia’s New Geopolitics: Essays on Reshaping the Indo-Pacific , Michael R. Auslin examines these and other key issues transforming the Indo-Pacific and the broader world. He also explores the history of American strategy in Asia, from the 18th century through today.

Taken together, Auslin’s essays convey the richness and diversity of the region: with more than three billion people, the Indo-Pacific contains over half of the global population, including the world’s two most populous nations, India and China. In a riveting final chapter, Auslin imagines a war between America and China in a bid for regional hegemony and what this conflict might look like.


Michael R. Auslin is the inaugural Payson J. Treat Distinguished Research Fellow in Contemporary Asia at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He is the author or editor of six books, including the best-selling The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World's Most Dynamic Region .

Book Q&A: Michael R. Auslin on Asia’s New Geopolitics


Hoover Institution Press Publishes Asia’s New Geopolitics by Michael R. Auslin: Collection of essays features timely analyses of currents in the Indo-Pacific region


Competition For Dominance: Asia’s Geopolitics And The Trends Shaping The Indo-Pacific Future

View the discussion thread.


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Asia’s New Geopolitics: Essays on Reshaping the Indo-Pacific

Asia’s New Geopolitics: Essays on Reshaping the Indo-Pacific

  • Charles Edel
  • January 19, 2021

Several years ago, a Chinese general remarked to me that “unlike the United States, we think in grand strategic terms. We think about how things are connected, and we see more than two issues at a time.” While it was unclear if this comment was offered as an observation, boast, or rebuke, the message was clear: Beijing’s confidence in its strategy was high, its perception of American statecraft was dim, and those views derived from a fundamental belief that the United States was hobbled by a myopic outlook, while the People’s Republic of China benefitted from its long-term and broad-ranging perspective.

At a moment when China’s increasingly aggressive policies have generated widespread concern in and beyond Asia, the wisdom of Beijing’s grand strategy certainly seems up for debate. But, as Michael Auslin emphasizes in his insightful collection of essays,  Asia’s New Geopolitics , U.S. strategy is often hobbled by its inability to grasp the totality of China’s actions and its failure to treat the Indo-Pacific region as an integrated theater.

Consider the South China Sea. Auslin writes that the “intense interest in the South China Sea, however justified, occluded a larger picture of the strategic environment in East Asia, even as it revealed fears about America’s position within it.” For Auslin, America’s constricted view of the forces at work in Asia is a perennial challenge because Washington, he writes, “appears to prefer focusing, or is able to focus, on only one sub-region at a time.”

This collection of essays is his attempt to correct that partial view by painting on a larger canvas. Auslin, a historian and Asia specialist at Stanford’s Hoover Institute, does so by enumerating the growing number of regional players, highlighting the connections between Asia’s different sub-regions, examining the trends most likely to affect the region’s future, and providing conceptual frameworks to understand regional dynamics.

Access the book review here.

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Asia's New Geopolitics

by C. Raja Mohan

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This article attempts to fill a gap in International Relations (IR) literature on East Asian security. ‘East Asia’ appears to be mostly an indeterminate conceptual construct, allowing scholars to look selectively at those aspects and areas that could justify their security thesis, albeit security dynamics in the region are all too difficult to comprehend and predict. This problem has been frequently pointed out in IR literature, but its methodological implications and suggestions have neither been appropriately illuminated nor been systematically offered, and the main solution commonly found in the literature was the tautological one of ‘better defining’ the region. As an alternative, this article suggests that one needs to tighten geographical focus and differentiate the subjects of analysis.When it comes to the study of East Asian security, one needs to aim to develop specific and differentiated generalizations as opposed to generalizations of a broad character. To showcase the fact that research outcomes can be more determinate when the target of analysis is more focused and specified, this article takes Northeast Asian security as an example and challenges the so-called ‘peaceful East Asia’ thesis, one of the mainstream perspectives on East Asian security. This article ultimately argues that while apprehending East Asian security dynamics through delimiting the scope of analysis and circumscribing the subjects of investigation is often deemed to be a modest enterprise–in particular, in terms of generalizability–the merits are substantial: research outcomes will be able not only to give us a truer mapping of the real world, but also bring us closer to building knowledge which satisfies the scientific criterion of ‘falsifiability.’

Elusive East Asia: Methodological Suggestions for the Study of East Asian Security

Mark Selden

Nation, Region and the Global in East Asia: Conflict and Cooperation

Meenu Sharma

South Asia Regional Issues and Global Im 1

Arndt Michael

Sovereignty vs. Security: SAARC and its Role in the Regional Security Architecture in South Asia

Ehsan Mehmood Khan

South Asia is home to nearly one-fourth of humanity. It also has one of the largest arrays of territorial and non-territorial disputes in the world. The region has witnessed several interstate wars and warlike situations besides a number of intrastate insurgencies, ethnic discords and confrontations in the last about seven decades. As a consequence, the strategic security environment of the region is overshadowed by traditional military security of the state. Human security of virtually 1.57 billion people remains hostage to the security perceptions based on the nature of conflicts rather than human sufferings based on shared realities. This paper analyzes key expressions and manifestations of the security paradigm so as to recommend practicable measures for a comprehensive, cooperative and holistic security framework.

South Asia's Strategic Security Environment

gurpreet khurana

The Indo-Pacific region stretches from the eastern Indian Ocean shores of Africa and West Asia to the littoral countries of the western Pacific. The region constitutes the ‘maritime underbelly’ of Asia, and is the fastest growing region in the world; and in a few decades, is likely to witness what may be referred to as ‘Renaissance 2.0’. The region is, therefore, ripe with enormous opportunities, not only for regional countries, but also for the rest of the global community. And yet, the region is beset with equally colossal security risks that emanate from inter alia the rise of China - that is not satisfied with ‘status quo’ in the global order including established international law and norms; strategic rivalries and the attendant security dilemma and arms race; issues of governance including maritime jurisdictions; the proliferation of malevolent non-state actors involved in maritime crimes and terrorism; and so on. The book is a collation of commentaries that analyse the trends with regard to the geopolitical and maritime security environment, along with the naval developments, in the Indo-Pacific in the past half-decade or so.

THE INDO-PACIFIC REGION: The Emerging Geopolitical and Security Environment (2018)

joshy M paul

Emerging Powers and Cooperative Security in Asia

Lubna Batool

Asian journal of International Peace and Security (AJIPS

Vivek Chadha

Asian Strategic Review 2014: US Pivot and Asian Security

Kulsoom Belal

The Evolution of Nuclear Deterrence in South Asia (CISS Insight, Vol II, No. 2&3, June-September 2014)

Rajesh Basrur

South Asia's Cold War, 1996


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  • Why We Argue

Michael R. Auslin

Asia's new geopolitics, essays on reshaping the indo-pacific, hoover institution press 2020.

Is the Indo-Pacific already the most dominant in terms of global power, politics, and wealth? In his newest book, Michael R. Auslin  considers the key issues facing the Indo-Pacific which have ramifications for the entire world. Geopolitical competition in the region threatens stability not just in Asia, but globally. 

In a series of essays, Asia's New Geopolitics: Essays on Reshaping the Indo-Pacific  (Hoover Institution Press, 2020) Auslin examines the key issues that are changing the balance of power in Indo-China and globally. He examines China's aggressive global policies and strategies, and its attempts to bend the world to its wishes. 

He argues that the global focus on the Sino-US competition for power has obscured "Asia's other great game" - the rivalry between long-time foes, China and Japan. He questions whether Kim-Jong-un can control his nuclear weaponry and the implications for safety if he cannot. 

Auslin examines the plight of women in India and asks whether its "missing women" are potentially hampering any role that India might play on the global stage. Underlying these concerns, the book analyses U.S. strategy in region. If there is be a shift in the global balance of power, what role can and should the U.S. take in limiting China's hegemony? 

The dramatic final chapter paints a bleak picture of a Sino-American Littoral war in the very near future. Is this the geopolitical trajectory in the Indo-Pacific? Michael R. Auslin offers a "future-history" of what soon could be. 

Michael Auslin, PhD, is the Payson J. Treat Distinguished Research Fellow in Contemporary Asia at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. A historian by training, he specializes in US policy in Asia and geopolitical issues in the Indo-Pacific region.  

Jane Richards is a doctoral student at the University of Hong Kong. You can find her on twitter where she follows all things related to human rights and Hong Kong politics @JaneRichardsHK

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Modern Diplomacy

In Asia’s New Geopolitics: Essays on Reshaping the Indo-Pacific, Michael R. Auslin presents a series of essays touching on major security issues in the Indo-Pacific region. Altogether, these essays form a comprehensive overview of the current geopolitical situation in the region from a U.S. perspective, providing ample recommendations for how the U.S. might balance against China. Although the volume’s broad scope is commendable, the essays within suffer from a handful of major weaknesses: one is a failure to consistently address and pinpoint China’s motivations in the region. Yet another is a failure to address the interests and incentives of malleable or unaligned powers in the region, and how these incentives might move a country to either balance against or bandwagon with China. The book also focuses primarily on historical context, with its one predictive essay, “The Sino-American Littoral War of 2025: A Future History,” saved for the very end, serving as the volume’s weakest point.

The book’s strengths in the form of strategic recommendations make themselves apparent in the first section, “Asia’s Mediterranean Strategy”. In this section, Michael R. Auslin correctly addresses a short-sighted focus on a single sub-region at a time as a weakness of U.S. Indo-Pacfic strategy, arguing for an approach that considers the region as a whole. This point is also reiterated in the book’s penultimate essay, “The Question of American Strategy in the Indo-Pacific.” The book’s second essay, “The New China Rules”, likewise addresses U.S. concerns over growing Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific and beyond, pointing to China’s economic, military, and cultural statecraft. However, it is also in this section in which Auslin’s book begins to display its weaknesses. In this section, Auslin refers to China as a dominant global power. However, most of the specific geopolitical issues addressed in this essay entail regional (rather than global) concerns on China’s behalf, while the global influence Auslin addresses displays itself mostly in cultural forms. Some of this is explicit, such as the establishment of Confucius Institutes, while some of this is implicit, such as Hollywood’s choice to remove imagery and plots that might be offensive to the Chinese government from the films it produces.

asia's new geopolitics essays on reshaping the indo pacific

One of the more interesting and convincing essays in the book, though one not without its own flaws, is “Can Kim Jong-Un Control His Nukes? Nuclear Safety, Accident, and the Specter of North Korea’s Atomic Arsenal.” In this essay, Auslin provides a fresh take, arguing that a nuclear accident is a much more likely threat from North Korea’s arms program than the oft-discussed topic of nuclear escalation. Auslin convincingly addresses a trust gap among North Korean officials in proffering up this argument. However, this essay also fails to consider whether North Korea would remain a regional threat should the country denuclearize, particularly given incidents of cyberattacks such as the 2014 Sony hack that the U.S. and its allies have attributed to North Korea. Auslin here also fails to consider whether North Korea’s conventional weapons would remain a regional threat in the event of denuclearization.

“Japan’s Eightfold Fence” perhaps serves as the most admirably interdisciplinary essay in the book, addressing Japan’s cultural foundations through a lens of historiography founded on modernization theory, integrating these approaches with a broad discussion of how Japanese national identity inflects contemporary Japanese internal politics. Auslin then uses this analysis of Japanese cultural history to describe the formation of the country’s strong nationalist tradition and the influence of this tradition on Japan’s foreign policy. In addressing these issues, Auslin provides an intriguing, if controversial, defense of a perceived Japanese cultural conservatism. The essay also leads in perfectly to the one that immediately follows it, “China Versus Japan”, which details the lengthy history behind (and projected long-term continuation of) the Sino-Japanese regional rivalry.

Perhaps the most out-of-place essay in the book is “India’s Missing Women”, the only essay in the book that focuses principally on South Asia rather than Northeast Asia. Additionally, it is also the only chapter in the book that focuses on small “p” politics issues of gender, identity, and human rights rather than broader diplomatic and military strategy. While an intriguing and insightful read, the reader can not shake the view that this essay belongs in a different book entirely.

The weakest portion of the book is undoubtedly its concluding essay, “The Sino-American Littoral War of 2025: A Future History.” This essay provides a relatively trite prediction involving current tensions escalating into a full-scale war between China and the U.S. A more compelling argument might have involved a list or qualitative probability analysis of competing scenarios, rather than simply retreading already common territory, with fairly little originality. The final essay in effect serves to highlight Auslin’s strengths at historical and cultural arguments in the previous essays, in contrast to a somewhat weak analysis that plays only with fairly safe and conventional ideas. At the very least, this essay could take more risks by making less conventional predictions about the future of the U.S.-China rivalry. Aside from this issue, however, the book’s overview of conflicts and rivalries in Northeast Asia – and how the U.S. might seek to work within this playing field – remains generally interesting and commendable.

Michael R. Auslin generally provides a reasonable argument for a broader, more comprehensive Indo-Pacific strategy on behalf of the U.S. As a starting point, Auslin makes the agreeable suggestion of focusing less on sub-regions and specific issues and instead maintaining a broad view of the Indo-Pacific. However, the essays never quite make a consistent argument for China’s motivations in the region. The essays also assume, implicitly, that most states in the region would benefit principally from bandwagoning with the U.S. and balancing against China, while failing to consider what economic, political, military, or cultural incentives might motivate a state to bandwagon with China. Similarly, the essay on “India’s Missing Women” feels like an interesting, if unnecessary detour. Lastly, the essays in the book maintain their principal strength in historical analysis. However, the book’s one predictive essay effectively reveals this strength in contrast to the author’s weakness in providing insightful long-term or long-shot regional forecasts.

info: Asia’s New Geopolitics: Essays on Reshaping the Indo-Pacific by Michael R. Auslin, Hoover Institution Press, Stanford, USA, 2020, 244p.

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