SAI
Authors
Michael Breger
News Type
News
Date
Paragraphs

As China’s military has modernized, Beijing’s territorial pursuits have become more pronounced. In May 2020, after years of mounting tensions on the India-China border, China pressed its claims in Ladakh. The resulting deadly skirmish on the Line of Actual Control shattered the existing strategic balance that had defined the bilateral relations between India and China, and New Delhi became convinced that the region needed more effective bulwarks against Chinese coercion. But what options do states like India have to balance the threats posed by ambitious neighbors, especially when internal and external balancing can be costly or provocative? How might India deter Chinese intrusion in the broader Indo-Pacific region, and if so, who will help? 

In a new International Affairs article, Shorenstein APARC South Asia Research Scholar Arzan Tarapore advances the concept of ‘zone balancing’ to answer these questions, using it to explain India's post-2020 strategic adjustment, including its warmer embrace of the Quad—the minilateral grouping comprising Australia, India, Japan and the United States. According to Tarapore, zone balancing provides a convincing rationale for the Quad's recently-clarified strategic logic.

Sign up for APARC newsletters to receive our scholars' updates.


 

“[Zone] balancing is still designed to gain an advantage over the adversary, but indirectly, by shaping the ‘zone’—or geographic region—of strategic competition, rather than directly, as a dyadic race for power between rivals.”
Arzan Tarapore
South Asia Research Scholar

Zone balancing is a term that denotes efforts to build the capacity and resilience of third-party states, differently from efforts to match the rival state's power symmetrically, as in internal and external balancing.  In zone balancing, “the balancer seeks to harden other states against the adversary’s coercion or inducements, thereby limiting the adversary’s opportunities to build strategic influence […] the balancing is still designed to gain an advantage over the adversary, but indirectly, by shaping the ‘zone’—or geographic region—of strategic competition, rather than directly, as a dyadic race for power between rivals.”

Tarapore cites the Marshall Plan as an early example for the application of zone balancing. For additional context, he establishes the theoretical foundations of more common approaches to balancing, and how India has applied such strategies against a rising China. The case of India demonstrates how changed structural conditions prompted it to shift emphasis from evasive balancing to zone balancing. Before concurrent crises drove New Delhi’s post-2020 strategic adjustment, “India had cautiously sought to soften its balancing against China by persisting with diplomatic reassurance—an approach Rajesh Rajagopalan labeled in this journal as ‘evasive balancing’.” 

Evasive balancing managed to regulate the India-China rivalry for some time but ultimately failed to deter China from aggression against India. The most notable crisis that prompted the shift to zone balancing was the border dispute in May 2020, when Chinese forces launched major incursions into the Indian territory of Ladakh, prompting a deadly skirmish, as well as further militarization of border areas that marked a rupture in the broader bilateral relationship. 

Enter the Quad, the minilateral security grouping comprising Australia, India, Japan and the United States. Minilateral security organs like the Quad could address some of the challenges posed by China, and India began to see the Quad as the logical vehicle to implement zone balancing. Re-established in late 2017, after a decade-long hiatus, The Quad “represented a signal, especially to China, that powerful like-minded states could and would coordinate…Beijing regarded this as a U.S.-orchestrated effort to contain China; therefore, simply sustaining the Quad and slowly building its momentum posed a threat to China’s plans.”

“Building target states’ capacity and resilience depends on the achievement of actual effects, whether material or institutional…for example to track submarines across the whole Indo-Pacific, or to build resilient undersea communication cables in the south Pacific.”
Arzan Tarapore
South Asia Research Scholar

According to Tarapore, this signaling function was the early Quad’s greatest strategic significance, regardless of its architect's intentions. The Quad’s significance has shifted since the leaders’ summits began in 2021, and its mere existence is no longer enough; it seeks to achieve policy outcomes. 

Indeed, zone balancing depends on policy outcomes: “building target states’ capacity and resilience depends on the achievement of actual effects, whether material or institutional…These effects are greater when we also consider the informal Quad, with some or all of its members acting in other channels, for example to track submarines across the whole Indo-Pacific, or to build resilient undersea communication cables in the south Pacific.” While achieving policy outcomes represents new ground for the formal Quad, the group's capacity for zone balancing to advance a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific,’ even without officially committing its members to combined military action, remains a promising prospect. 

Like any deterrent strategy, zone balancing is limited in its applicability. For Tarapore, zone balancing alone “is not enough to safeguard regional stability…most fundamentally, the Quad’s zone balancing does not offer broad-spectrum protection against aggression.” Insisting that the Quad’s strategy of zone balancing can succeed only if it “leavens its priorities with a sensitive and nuanced appreciation for regional concerns,” Tarapore emphasizes that the Quad’s success as a vehicle for zone balancing relies on its credibility as a provider of international public goods and its ability to deliver on key policy goals.

Read More

Microchip
Commentary

Towards Meaningful Quad Cooperation on Intelligence

Collaborative AI capabilities would allow the partners to deepen military cooperation, should leaders choose that step.
Towards Meaningful Quad Cooperation on Intelligence
U.S. President Joe Biden hosts a Quad Leaders Summit at the White House.
News

New Essay Collection Examines Minilateral Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific

A new Asia Policy roundtable considers whether and how minilateral groupings, such as the Quad and AUKUS, can deter coercion and aggression in the Indo-Pacific. The roundtable co-editor is APARC South Asia Research Scholar Arzan Tarapore, and it opens with an essay by Center Fellow Oriana Skylar Mastro.
New Essay Collection Examines Minilateral Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific
 U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau on June 26, 2022.
Commentary

Creativity Key for U.S. to Best China in Infrastructure Race

Biden's Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment can take lessons from successes involving the private sector.
Creativity Key for U.S. to Best China in Infrastructure Race
All News button
1
Subtitle

In a new International Affairs article, APARC South Asia Research Scholar Arzan Tarapore introduces the concept of zone balancing, applies the theory to explain India’s embrace of the Quad, and identifies some of the minilateral partnership’s strategic limitations.

Authors
Arzan Tarapore
News Type
Commentary
Date
Paragraphs

This commentary was first published by The Lowy Institute.



The Quad has a lot on its plate. The informal grouping of Australia, India, Japan and the United States began modestly, but stepped up its ambition two years ago, with regular summit meetings and an ever-growing agenda of work. Recognising the dearth of effective groupings to address some of the Indo-Pacific region’s thorniest problems, the Quad has assumed the job of providing international public goods. Its work program is dizzyingly broad, covering everything from climate change to telecommunications regulation to international scholarships.

It may be time, however, for the Quad to plunge into another endeavour – intelligence cooperation. In particular, the Quad is ideally suited to develop new intelligence tools and enterprise management practices to harness the potential of artificial intelligence (AI).

Risks and opportunities of collaboration

Sharing intelligence is a fraught proposition. Intelligence services jealously guard their secrets. The United States and Australia at least have the advantage of being members of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, with deeply entrenched institutional links and trust built over decades of shoulder-to-shoulder cooperation. Japan lies outside that tent, but is at least a US treaty ally, with deep military cooperation. India is a newer security partner, still lacking any trusted systems or habits of sharing with its Quad partners.

The counterintelligence risk would be as real as ever, but manageable.
Arzan Tarapore
South Asia Research Scholar

Collaborating on AI tools and processes may seem especially fraught because that cutting edge technology is still so nascent, and its mastery will be so consequential for national security. But that is precisely what makes it so important. As it matures, AI is likely to transform every intelligence function: automation can help to cue sensors to fill collection gaps; data analytics can structure, fuse, and sort colossal amounts of raw data; machine learning can quickly detect anomalies or changes and bring them to analysts’ attention; and so on.

On AI, Quad members India and Japan would bring advantages that Five Eyes members cannot muster. They are both AI powerhouses, but bring particular strengths in an enormous pool of trained AI talent and computing power, respectively. When these resources are pooled, they would represent a meaningful contribution to the intelligence capabilities of the extravagantly-resourced US and its allies. In the race for digital mastery, the likeminded partners of the Indo-Pacific need all the help they can get.

The counterintelligence risk would be as real as ever, but manageable. AI collaboration would require sharing tools and business processes, not sensitive sources and methods. Some data sharing would be necessary, but data can be compartmented and tiered, so that a subset of more-sensitive data remains more restricted.

AI tools themselves are largely sourced from the private sector – start-ups such as CuttingEdgeAI, developer of a full-motion-video object detection tool, now supply various arms of the US government. Tools may also be sourced from foreign start-ups – the Indian firm 114ai, developer of a space and multi-domain awareness tool, has similarly won contracts with US government and defence industry. Collaboration on AI tools and processes, then, need not require rethinking existing classification rules. Indeed, export controls may be a bigger hurdle than data classification.

Why AI matters

Sharing assessments is a relatively easy and therefore tempting form of intelligence cooperation. But the effects of such cooperation are ephemeral and limited. If Quad members can co-develop and share new AI tools and enterprise management processes, they would build long-term capability with cascading effects. At a minimum, each member’s intelligence system would be individually better equipped for strategic competition with China. Ideally, they would also develop common standards and more interoperable systems – which would lay a foundation for cooperation in a multitude of other intelligence or operational areas.

Sharing assessments is a relatively easy and therefore tempting form of intelligence cooperation. But the effects of such cooperation are ephemeral and limited.
Arzan Tarapore
South Asia Research Scholar

Some of this would enable existing Quad policy initiatives. The Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA), for example, will rely on commercially available data and AI to build a common operating picture (COP) of the Indo-Pacific’s waterways. Improved AI tools for fusing, processing, and disseminating this data would allow IPMDA to deliver faster and more accurate results. AI capabilities would also enable the Quad’s focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, with tools to cue collection and faster – even predictive – intelligence on how to deploy emergency responders.

But collaborative AI capabilities would also equip the Quad to deepen military cooperation, should its leaders choose to take that unprecedented step. The Quad members’ militaries do cooperate – for example in the Malabar series of naval exercises – albeit outside the formal agenda of the Quad. Whether formally a Quad initiative or not, its members could use AI collaboration to develop a tailored COP. The US and Japan have recently initiated such a project for the East China Sea. Other Quad members could explore similar ventures around, for example, the Malacca, Lombok, and Sunda Straits, to jointly find and track targets.

Ultimately, AI-enabled intelligence could help Quad members to lay a foundation for more effective combined military activities to deter and win conflicts. But taking on that military role remains a political decision for Quad leaders, which may be even more fraught than sharing intelligence.

Read More

Speaker portraits superimposed on an image of the flags of China and the United States
News

Caught in the Middle: How Asian Nations Are Navigating the U.S.-China Competition

This fall, APARC brought together scholars and policy experts to examine the security competition that has come to define an era from the perspectives of Asian nations.
Caught in the Middle: How Asian Nations Are Navigating the U.S.-China Competition
U.S. President Joe Biden hosts a Quad Leaders Summit at the White House.
News

New Essay Collection Examines Minilateral Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific

A new Asia Policy roundtable considers whether and how minilateral groupings, such as the Quad and AUKUS, can deter coercion and aggression in the Indo-Pacific. The roundtable co-editor is APARC South Asia Research Scholar Arzan Tarapore, and it opens with an essay by Center Fellow Oriana Skylar Mastro.
New Essay Collection Examines Minilateral Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific
Soldier of the Indian Army looks upwards
Commentary

A Risky New Status Quo

The tentative conciliatory steps between nuclear-armed rivals at the LAC are important, but come with riders for India.
A Risky New Status Quo
All News button
1
Subtitle

Collaborative AI capabilities would allow the partners to deepen military cooperation, should leaders choose that step.

Paragraphs
Image
International Affairs

When a state faces a rising great power rival, it has a range of balancing options from which to choose. But a balancing state may consider many of the most common options to be either too costly or unduly provocative. Thus India, for example, considered 2020 to be a strategic watershed—with a clearly more aggressive China on the border, and a clearly more disorderly international system after the COVID pandemic—but has undertaken only modest military balancing. What alternative options do such erstwhile balancers have?

This article addresses both those theoretical and empirical puzzles, by introducing the novel concept of ‘zone balancing’ as another option in a balancing state's repertoire. Zone balancing seeks to shape the international field of competition in which the balancer and rival operate—specifically, to build the capacity and resilience of third-party states, to shrink the rival's ability to coerce them.

This article advances that concept and uses it to explain India's post-2020 strategic adjustment, and especially its warmer embrace of the Quad—the minilateral grouping comprising Australia, India, Japan and the United States. Zone balancing effectively explains the Quad's recently-clarified strategic logic, and predicts some of its limitations.

All Publications button
1
Publication Type
Journal Articles
Publication Date
Subtitle

An article in International Affairs, Volume 99, Issue 1, January 2023, Pages 239–25.

Journal Publisher
International Affairs
Authors
Arzan Tarapore
Authors
News Type
News
Date
Paragraphs

The Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) is pleased to announce a suite of training, fellowship, and funding opportunities to support Stanford students interested in the area of contemporary Asia. APARC invites highly motivated and dedicated undergraduate- and graduate-level students to apply for these offerings:

APARC Summer 2023 Research Assistant Internships

APARC seeks current Stanford students to join our team as paid research assistant interns for the duration of the summer 2023 quarter. Research assistants work with assigned APARC faculty members on varied issues related to the politics, economies, populations, security, foreign policies, and international relations of the countries of the Asia-Pacific region. This summer's projects include:

  • The Biopolitics of Cigarette Smoking and Production
  • The Bureaucratic State: A Personnel Management Lens
  • China’s Largest Corporations
  • Healthy Aging in Asia
  • Hiding in Plain Sight: How China Became A Great Power
  • Nationalism and Racism in Asia
  • U.S. Rivals: Construct or Reality?
     

All summer research assistant positions will be on campus for eight weeks. The hourly pay rate is $17.25 for undergraduate students, $25 for graduate students.

The deadline for submitting applications and letters of recommendation is March 1, 2023.

Please follow these application guidelines:

I. Prepare the following materials:


II. Fill out the online application form for summer 2023, including the above two attachments, and submit the complete form.

III. Arrange for a letter of recommendation from a faculty to be sent directly to Shorenstein APARC. Please note: the faculty members should email their letters directly to Kristen Lee at kllee@stanford.edu. We will consider only applications that include all supporting documents.

For more information and details about each summer research project, visit the Summer Research Assistant Internships Page >


 

APARC 2023-24 Predoctoral Fellowship

APARC supports Stanford Ph.D. candidates who specialize in contemporary Asia topics. The Center offers a stipend of $37,230 for the 2023-24 academic year, plus Stanford's Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR) fee for three quarters. We expect fellows to remain in residence at the Center throughout the year and to participate in Center activities.

Applications for the 2023-24 fellowship cycle of the APARC Predoctoral Fellowship are due March 1, 2023.

Please follow these application guidelines:

I. Prepare the following materials:

  • A current CV;
  • A cover letter including a brief description of your dissertation (up to 5 double-spaced pages);
  • A copy of your transcripts. Transcripts should cover all graduate work and include evidence of recently-completed work.

II. Fill out the following online application form, including the above three attachments, and submit the complete application form.

III. Arrange for two (2) letters of recommendation from members of your dissertation committee to be sent directly to Shorenstein APARC.
Please note: the faculty/advisors should email their letters directly to Kristen Lee at kllee@stanford.edu.

We will consider only applications that include all supporting documents. The Center will give priority to candidates who are prepared to finish their degree by the end of the 2023-24 academic year.

For more information, visit the APARC Predoctoral Fellowship Page >


 

APARC Diversity Grant

APARC's diversity grant supports Stanford undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented minorities who are interested in contemporary Asia. The Center will award a maximum of $10,000 per grant to support a wide range of research expenses.

The Center is reviewing grant applications on a rolling basis.
To be considered for the grant, please follow these application guidelines:

I. Prepare the following materials:

  • A statement describing the proposed research activity or project (no more than three pages);
  • A current CV;
  • An itemized budget request explaining research expense needs.

II. Fill out the following online application form, including the above three attachments, and submit the complete application form.

III. Arrange for a letter of recommendation from a faculty to be sent directly to APARC.

Please note: the faculty members should email their letters directly to Kristen Lee at kllee@stanford.edu.

For more information, visit the APARC Diversity Grant page >

Read More

Tongtong Zhang
Q&As

Predoctoral Fellow Spotlight: Tongtong Zhang Examines Channels for Public Deliberation in China

Political Scientist and APARC Predoctoral Fellow Tongtong Zhang explores how the Chinese Communist Party maintains control through various forms of political communication.
Predoctoral Fellow Spotlight: Tongtong Zhang Examines Channels for Public Deliberation in China
Portrait of Ma'ili Yee, 2020-21 APARC Diversity Fellow
News

Student Spotlight: Ma’ili Yee Illuminates a Vision for Building the Blue Pacific Continent

With support from Shorenstein APARC’s Diversity Grant, coterminal student Ma’ili Yee (BA ’20, MA ’21) reveals how Pacific island nations are responding to the U.S.-China rivalry by developing a collective strategy for their region.
Student Spotlight: Ma’ili Yee Illuminates a Vision for Building the Blue Pacific Continent
Stanford main quad at night and text calling for nominations for APARC's 2023 Shorenstein Journalism Award.
News

Nominations Open for 2023 Shorenstein Journalism Award

Sponsored by Stanford University’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, the annual award recognizes outstanding journalists and journalism organizations for excellence in coverage of the Asia-Pacific region. News editors, publishers, scholars, and organizations focused on Asia research and analysis are invited to submit nominations for the 2023 award through February 15.
Nominations Open for 2023 Shorenstein Journalism Award
Hero Image
All News button
1
Subtitle

To support Stanford students working in the area of contemporary Asia, the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Center is offering research assistant positions for the duration of the 2023 summer quarter, a predoctoral fellowship for the duration of the 2023-24 academic year, and a Diversity Grant that funds research activities by students from underrepresented minorities.

Authors
Noa Ronkin
News Type
News
Date
Paragraphs

The Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC), Stanford University’s hub for interdisciplinary research, education, and engagement on contemporary Asia, invites nominations for the 2023 Shorenstein Journalism Award. The award recognizes outstanding journalists and journalism organizations with outstanding track records of helping audiences worldwide understand the complexities of the Asia-Pacific region. The 2023 award will honor a recipient whose work has primarily appeared in Asian news media. APARC invites 2023 award nomination submissions from news editors, publishers, scholars, journalism associations, and entities focused on researching and interpreting the Asia-Pacific region. Submissions are due by Wednesday, February 15, 2023.

Sponsored by APARC, the award carries a cash prize of US $10,000. It alternates between recipients whose work has primarily appeared in Asian news media and those whose work has primarily appeared in American news media. The 2023 award will recognize a recipient from the former category.

For the purpose of the award, the Asia-Pacific region is defined broadly to include Northeast, Southeast, South, and Central Asia and Australasia. Both individual journalists with a considerable body of work and journalism organizations are eligible for the award. Nominees’ work may be in traditional forms of print or broadcast journalism and/or in new forms of multimedia journalism. The Award Selection Committee, whose members are experts in journalism and Asia research and policy, presides over the judging of nominees and is responsible for the selection of honorees.

An annual tradition since 2002, the award honors the legacy of APARC benefactor, Mr. Walter H. Shorenstein, and his twin passions for promoting excellence in journalism and understanding of Asia. Over the course of its history, the award has recognized world-class journalists who push the boundaries of coverage of the Asia-Pacific region and help advance mutual understanding between audiences in the United States and their Asian counterparts.

Recent honorees include NPR's Beijing Correspondent Emily Feng; Burmese journalist and human rights defender Swe Win; former Wall Street Journal investigative reporter Tom Wright; and the internationally esteemed champion of press freedom Maria Ressa, CEO and executive editor of the Philippine news platform Rappler and winner of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.

Award nominations are accepted electronically through Wednesday, February 15, 2023, at 11:59 PM PST. For information about the nomination procedures and to submit a nomination please visit the award nomination entry page. The Center will announce the winner by April 2023 and present the award at a public ceremony at Stanford in the autumn quarter of 2023.

Please direct all inquiries to aparc-communications@stanford.edu.

Read More

Emily Feng speaking at the 2022 Shorenstein Journalism Award.
News

Shorenstein Journalism Award Winner Emily Feng Examines the Consequences of China’s Information Void and the Future of China Reporting

The challenges facing foreign correspondents in China are forcing the West to reconfigure its understanding of the country, creating opacity that breeds suspicion and mistrust, says Emily Feng, NPR’s Beijing correspondent and recipient of the 2022 Shorenstein Journalism Award. But China seems to want the appearance of foreign media coverage without getting to the heart of what happens in the country.
Shorenstein Journalism Award Winner Emily Feng Examines the Consequences of China’s Information Void and the Future of China Reporting
Kiyoteru Tsutsui and book, Human Rights and the State
News

Stanford Sociologist Kiyoteru Tsutsui Wins the 44th Suntory Prize for Arts and Sciences

The Suntory Foundation recognizes Tsutsui, the Henri H. and Tomoye Takahashi Professor and Senior Fellow in Japanese Studies at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, for his book 'Human Rights and the State.'
Stanford Sociologist Kiyoteru Tsutsui Wins the 44th Suntory Prize for Arts and Sciences
Portrait of Oriana Skylar Mastro with text "Recipeint of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada 2022-23 John H. McArthur Research Fellowship"
News

Center Fellow Oriana Skylar Mastro Awarded 2022-23 John H. McArthur Research Fellowship

The fellowship, established by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, recognizes Mastro’s exceptional scholarly contributions in the fields of Chinese military, Asia-Pacific security, war termination, and coercive diplomacy.
Center Fellow Oriana Skylar Mastro Awarded 2022-23 John H. McArthur Research Fellowship
All News button
1
Subtitle

Sponsored by Stanford University’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, the annual award recognizes outstanding journalists and journalism organizations for excellence in coverage of the Asia-Pacific region. News editors, publishers, scholars, and organizations focused on Asia research and analysis are invited to submit nominations for the 2023 award through February 15.

Paragraphs

 

Image
Cover of the volume "Routledge Handbook of the International Relations of South Asia"
Edited By Šumit Ganguly and Frank O'Donnell, this handbook offers a comprehensive overview of the international relations of South Asia.

South Asia as a region is increasingly assuming greater significance in global politics for a host of compelling reasons. This volume offers a comprehensive collection of perspectives on the international politics of South Asia, covering an extensive range of issues spanning from inter-state wars to migration in the region. Each contribution provides a careful discussion of the four major theoretical approaches to the study of international politics: Realism, Constructivism, Liberalism, and Critical Theory. In turn, the chapters discuss the relevance of each approach to the issue area addressed in the book. Further, every effort has been made in the chapters to discuss the origins, evolution, and future direction of each issue.

This book will benefit students of South Asian politics, human security, regional security, and International Relations in general.

All Publications button
1
Publication Type
Book Chapters
Publication Date
Subtitle

A chapter in Routledge Handbook of the International Relations of South Asia

Authors
Hannah Haegeland
Arzan Tarapore
Book Publisher
Routledge
Paragraphs

Arzan Tarapore is the co-editor of the Asia Policy roundtable 'Minilateral Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific' and the co-author of its introductory essay, "Minilaterals and Deterrence: A Critical New Nexus." Oriana Skylar Mastro is the author of the first essay in the roundtable, "Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific." Excerpts from both essays are included below.


Excerpt from "Minilaterals and Deterrence: A Critical New Nexus," by Arzan Tarapore and Brendan Taylor:

As countries around the Indo-Pacific strive to manage the challenges of China’s growing power and assertiveness, they have emphasized two concepts. First, they have increasingly embraced “minilateral” groupings—small, issue-based, informal, and uninstitutionalized partnerships — as a way of coordinating international policy action.

Second, the United States and its allies, such as Australia and Japan, have renewed their commitment to deterrence to maintain regional stability. Rather than relying on institutions to deepen regional integration, which was their preferred option after the end of the Cold War, they are designing defense policies to dissuade potential adversaries, especially China, from revisionist behavior.

The Cold War produced a distinguished body of scholarship addressing the concept of deterrence.3 There is also a burgeoning literature on minilateral security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.4 Yet little, if any, work has thus far addressed the potential convergence between these two increasingly dominant trends in the region’s security politics. By bringing together six leading security experts to explore the nexus between deterrence and minilateralism, this roundtable constitutes a first attempt to fill this gap. 


Excerpt from "Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific," by Oriana Skylar Mastro:

As China’s military might and tendency toward regional aggression grow, the United States and its allies are increasingly concerned with deterrence. Their strategies seek to prevent Beijing from disrupting the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific by, for example, invading Taiwan or conducting gray-zone operations in the South China Sea.

Yet deterring China with minilateral groupings of states is more complex and difficult than traditional deterrence theory might suggest. This essay lays out some of the unique characteristics of the China challenge before considering how minilaterals can best enhance deterrence in these circumstances. 

All Publications button
1
Publication Type
Journal Articles
Publication Date
Subtitle

An Asia Policy roundtable co-edited by Arzan Tarapore, including an essay by Oriana Skylar Mastro.

Journal Publisher
Asia Policy
Authors
Arzan Tarapore
Oriana Skylar Mastro
Number
4
Authors
Noa Ronkin
News Type
News
Date
Paragraphs

Over the past decade, as China’s might and assertiveness have grown, countries around the Indo-Pacific have increasingly embraced informal partnerships, or minilateral groupings, to deepen international policy action and defense coordination. Two prominent examples of the minilateral model are the Quad, which comprises Australia, India, Japan, and the United States, and AUKUS, which includes Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. However, deterring China with minilateral groupings is more complex than traditional deterrence theory might suggest. Can minilateral groupings deter coercion and aggression in the Indo-Pacific, and if so, under what conditions? 

A collection of essays in a new Asia Policy roundtable tackles this question. Shorenstein APARC South Asia Research Scholar Arzan Tarapore is a co-editor of the roundtable. Center Fellow Oriana Skylar Mastro is the author of the first essay in the collection.


Sign up for APARC newsletters to receive our scholars' updates.

The roundtable brings together six leading security experts to explore the nexus between deterrence and minilateralism in Indo-Pacific security politics. The motivation for this endeavor, Tarpore and co-editor Brendan Taylor of the Australian National University explain in the roundtable introductory essay, is to fill the gap in the existing literature, which has largely not addressed the possible convergence between these two increasingly dominant trends in the region.

The roundtable opens with Mastro's essay, in which she identifies the unique characteristics of the China challenge and considers how minilateral groupings can best enhance deterrence in these circumstances. First, she explains why minilaterals, such as the Quad, could address some of the challenges of “deterrence by punishment.” This traditional form of deterrence employs the threat of severe penalties — ranging from economic sanctions to nuclear retaliation — to prevent attacks by an adversary. Here, Mastro says, “economic or political costs may have greater deterrent value against Beijing than military costs, thus creating an opportunity for the Quad.”

Next is the category of “deterrence by denial,” which includes strategies that prevent or limit aggressive actions of an adversary by creating the perception that they will not succeed. Such denial-based strategies are more effective than punishment-based ones in circumstances where China could blunt U.S. attempts at punishment or choose to incur the costs. But the United States, Mastro says, “does not have the regional force posture to deny China its objectives.” 

Mastro then considers a third, less analyzed category, “deterrence by resilience,” where the goal is to encourage the perception that disruptive events such as military operations will not be effective in attaining the adversary’s objectives. Here, “resiliency is about signaling to China that the benefits of a particular action are less than China believes them to be.” By building resiliency, smaller countries can push back against Chinese coercion to abide by China's interests. Countries in minilateral groupings should therefore prioritize this form of deterrence as they consider ways to cooperate, Mastro concludes.

Read More

 U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau on June 26, 2022.
Commentary

Creativity Key for U.S. to Best China in Infrastructure Race

Biden's Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment can take lessons from successes involving the private sector.
Creativity Key for U.S. to Best China in Infrastructure Race
Chinese President Xi Jinping is applauded by senior members of the government and delegates.
Commentary

In China, Xi Jinping Is Getting an Unprecedented Third Term. What Should the World Expect?

Xi's plans are long term and unlikely to shift, but he can now be more aggressive than before in their pursuit.
In China, Xi Jinping Is Getting an Unprecedented Third Term. What Should the World Expect?
Emily Feng speaking at the 2022 Shorenstein Journalism Award.
News

Shorenstein Journalism Award Winner Emily Feng Examines the Consequences of China’s Information Void and the Future of China Reporting

The challenges facing foreign correspondents in China are forcing the West to reconfigure its understanding of the country, creating opacity that breeds suspicion and mistrust, says Emily Feng, NPR’s Beijing correspondent and recipient of the 2022 Shorenstein Journalism Award. But China seems to want the appearance of foreign media coverage without getting to the heart of what happens in the country.
Shorenstein Journalism Award Winner Emily Feng Examines the Consequences of China’s Information Void and the Future of China Reporting
All News button
1
Subtitle

A new Asia Policy roundtable considers whether and how minilateral groupings, such as the Quad and AUKUS, can deter coercion and aggression in the Indo-Pacific. The roundtable co-editor is APARC South Asia Research Scholar Arzan Tarapore, and it opens with an essay by Center Fellow Oriana Skylar Mastro.

News Type
News
Date
Paragraphs

The Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) at Stanford University and the Ban Ki-moon Foundation For a Better Future announced today the launch of an annual Trans-Pacific Sustainability Dialogue in Asia to accelerate progress on achieving the United Nations-adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The joint project will spur new research and policy partnerships between experts from the United States and Asia to expedite the implementation of the Agenda’s underlying 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by governments and non-state actors. The two-day inaugural Dialogue will be held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, on October 27 and 28, 2022, and will be free and open to the public.

The Dialogue’s co-organizers include the Natural Capital Project (NatCap) of Stanford University, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, Korea Environmental Industry and Technology Institute (KEITI), Korea Environment Corporation (K-eco), and Korea Water Resources Corporation (K-water). 

The first day will take place at The Plaza Seoul and will be co-hosted by the Korea Environment Institute. It will include a series of public sessions headlined by Ban Ki-moon, the eighth secretary-general of the UN, who will join a lineup of world leaders including Kevin Rudd, former prime minister of Australia and chief executive officer and president of the Asia Society; Iván Duque, former president of the Republic of Colombia; and Gombojav Zandanshatar, chairman of the State Great Hural (Parliament) of Mongolia.

“This Dialogue is very timely and relevant as the climate crisis is deepening in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Sustainable Development Goals are becoming more difficult to achieve in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic,” says Mr. Ban Ki-moon. “Asia-Pacific countries should be more aggressive in the fight against climate change and more audacious in the role they play toward achieving the SDGs,” he noted.

In this spirit, expert discussions on the second day will bring together social science researchers and scientists from across the Asia-Pacific region, alongside policymakers and practitioners, to share local and global nature-positive solutions and new pathways of meaningful SDG acceleration actions. Co-hosted by and held at Ewha Womans University, the panel discussions will explore the making of livable, sustainable cities, such as Busan Metropolitan City, and the threats to them by climate change, disasters, and human security issues. To achieve systems transformation and sustainable development, discussions will turn to the need to value and invest in nature.

“Climate and sustainability solutions span disciplines and sectors and require collaboration with partners worldwide,” says Gi-Wook Shin, the William J. Perry Professor of Contemporary Korea at Stanford and director of APARC. “The launch of the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability marks an opportune moment to scale up SDGs implementation by leveraging knowledge and expertise from across Stanford and the Asia-Pacific and engaging the next generation of scholars and experts,” Shin adds. “We are honored to join in this effort with Mr. Ban and his team, with whom APARC has an established relationship.”

Highlighting the role of youth in achieving the SDGs, the Dialogue includes student panels that feature young leaders from Stanford University, Ewha Womans University, Osaka University, and De La Salle University, among other Asian universities. Students’ research, applied work, and entrepreneurial endeavors across the region showcase innovations and transformations in green financing and sustainable investments, gender mainstreaming and climate governance, development cooperation for sustainable governance, and scaling environmental solutions through a business and social justice lens.

The Seoul Trans-Pacific Sustainability Dialogue is the inaugural event in APARC and the Ban Ki-moon Foundation’s joint effort to stimulate ambitious action to deliver the 2030 Agenda and SDGs. The annual Dialogue may rotate among different host cities in Asia to address different themes selected from the SDGs framework spearheaded by Mr. Ban Ki-moon during his term as the UN Secretary-General. 

Visit the event page to register to attend the Trans-Pacific Sustainability Dialogue in person in Seoul, as well as for the full program agenda and speaker list.

The event is also offered online via a live webcast: watch the live-streamed sessions on the event page or via the Ban Ki-moon Foundation’s YouTube channel.

About the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center

The Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (Shorenstein APARC) addresses critical issues affecting the countries of Asia, their regional and global affairs, and U.S.-Asia relations. As Stanford University’s hub for the interdisciplinary study of contemporary Asia, APARC produces policy-relevant research, provides education and training to students, scholars, and practitioners, and strengthens dialogue and cooperation between counterparts in the Asia-Pacific and the United States. Founded in 1983, APARC today is home to a scholar community of distinguished academics and practitioners in government, business, and civil society, who specialize in trends that cut across the entire Asia-Pacific region. For more, visit aparc.stanford.edu.

About the Ban Ki-moon Foundation For a Better Future

The Ban Ki-moon Foundation For a Better Future follows and further develops the achievement and philosophy of Ban Ki-moon, the 8th Secretary General of the United Nations through upholding the values of unification, communication and co-existence, and dedication. It promotes three pillars of the UN including peace and security, development, and human rights and contributes to making a better future devoid of conflict and deficiency. In particular, the Ban Ki-moon Foundation actively collaborates with the UN, international organizations, and stakeholders toward achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and realizing the 2050 carbon net-zero of all state parties of the Paris Climate Accord of 2015. For more, visit http://eng.bf4bf.or.kr/

Media Contact

Journalists interested in covering the event should contact Shorenstein APARC’s Communications Manager, Michael Breger at mbreger@stanford.edu. For further information on the Trans-Pacific Sustainability Dialogue, please contact Cheryll Alipio, Shorenstein APARC’s Associate Director for Program and Policy at calipio@stanford.edu.

All News button
1
Subtitle

The Trans-Pacific Sustainability Dialogue convenes social science researchers and scientists from Stanford University and across the Asia-Pacific region, alongside student leaders, policymakers, and practitioners, to generate new research and policy partnerships to accelerate the implementation of the United Nations-adopted Sustainable Development Goals. The inaugural Dialogue will be held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, on October 27 and 28, 2022.

Authors
Arzan Tarapore
News Type
Commentary
Date
Paragraphs

This commentary was first published in The Hindu.


India and China appear to be mending fences, gingerly. Relations have been icy since China launched multiple incursions across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh in mid-2020. After years of inconclusive military talks and halting “disengagement” from sites of confrontation, the rivals made inching progress last week. They completed disengagement in an area known as Patrolling Point 15 (PP15), pulling troops back to create a demilitarized buffer zone, and their leaders met in person at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Samarkand.

The tentative conciliatory steps between two nuclear-armed rivals are important; but they also carry risks, especially for India.


Sign up for APARC newsletters to receive our experts' commentary and analysis.


Despite the latest round of disengagement, the LAC remains deeply unsettled. Observers have pointed out that the buffer zones produced by the crisis inhibit India’s ability to patrol its own territory. And India and China have tacitly agreed to postpone settlement at two other confrontation sites, including a particularly tactically valuable area known as Depsang. The buffer zones and Depsang’s status both suit China’s objectives because they limit India’s military activities near the LAC, which analysts judge had partly motivated China’s initial incursions in 2020.

Even if future rounds of talks continue “disengagement and de-escalation,” and reduce those forces, returning to the status quo ante is now impossible.
Arzan Tarapore

Similarly, the military threat on the border is not only undiminished, but has actually grown over the course of the crisis. The reinforcements that each side deployed since 2020 have not returned to garrison. Even if future rounds of talks continue “disengagement and de-escalation,” and reduce those forces, returning to the status quo ante is now impossible. Both sides have raced to build permanent military infrastructure near the border, to help them surge forces to the border. Unsurprisingly, China seems to have outpaced India in building these roads, helipads, and communications nodes. 

China still claims Arunachal Pradesh as its own, and just as it has pressed its maritime claims once its growing capabilities permit, its military build-up may portend increasing pressure in coming years. Even without a deliberate attack, the increasing capabilities and mobility on both sides of the border means that a crisis can more quickly escalate to a large military stand-off anywhere on the LAC, and possibly even trigger a conflict.

Strategic implications
 

As vexatious as the tactical picture may be on the border, the strategic implications are more dire. For over two years, the land border has become the overwhelming priority in India’s military competition with China. India has reassigned one of three originally Pakistan-facing Strike Corps to the China front. It has deployed its newest artillery, fighter jets, and drones to the China border. 

With the border crisis, China seems to have successfully fixed India’s gaze to the land border, at the expense of that more consequential competition over the Indian Ocean.
Arzan Tarapore

At the same time, India has not significantly improved its capabilities or posture in the Indian Ocean region. Granted, a suite of impressive new capabilities — from cruise missile-equipped fighters and U.S.-origin naval helicopters to a brand-new indigenously-built aircraft carrier — are inching towards fruition. But these programmes were all initiated before the border crisis, when the Indian military was incrementally modernising its capabilities for the Indian Ocean.

Whether or not by design, this must delight Beijing. As India and China jostle for security and influence in Asia, the contest in the Indian Ocean will inevitably intensify. Their respective capabilities to project military force across the Ocean, to coerce or defend smaller regional States, and to establish an enduring strategic presence there, will determine the Asian balance of power. With the border crisis, China seems to have successfully fixed India’s gaze to the land border, at the expense of that more consequential competition over the Indian Ocean.

Disengagement at PP15, and especially continued “disengagement and de-escalation,” has the potential to ameliorate this strategic trap. A progressively less urgent threat will tempt New Delhi to de-emphasise military readiness on the border. This could be a golden opportunity for Indian planners to work towards long-term military modernisation and political influence across the Indian Ocean region. But a likelier and riskier outcome is that decision makers will prioritise other, more politically salient issues, like gaining quick wins in the campaign for Atmanirbharta in defence industry — which may come at the expense of modernisation.

Paradoxically, then, a cooling crisis on the border may teach India the wrong lesson: that the short-term expedient of greater readiness is enough to see off the Chinese threat. In fact, and especially for the strategic prize of the Indian Ocean region, the challenge posed by China cannot be met without long-term growth in Indian national capacity. That, in turn, requires coherent strategic assessments and the political will to balance readiness with modernisation.

Read More

hands on Iranian flag
News

Fixing Intelligence Failures: The Last Shah, the United States, and the View from Somewhere

Introducing a new conceptual framework for intelligence analysts, South Asia Research Scholar Arzan Tarapore offers an alternative to traditional intelligence-gathering axioms that helps explain the failure of U.S. assessments on the Iranian revolution and may benefit current policymakers in better leveraging intelligence to achieve strategic goals.
Fixing Intelligence Failures: The Last Shah, the United States, and the View from Somewhere
Kari Bingen discusses Indian national security
News

APARC’s South Asia Initiative Sets Forth a New Agenda for Indian Competitiveness

The inaugural conference of APARC's South Asia Initiative convened experts from the public and private sectors to examine the role that critical and emerging technologies can play in India’s national security and generate new pathways for U.S.-India cooperation.
APARC’s South Asia Initiative Sets Forth a New Agenda for Indian Competitiveness
Australian Navy submarine HMAS Sheean
Commentary

AUKUS Is Deeper Than Just Submarines

While the Australia-UK-US security pact shows a seriousness about naval power, the biggest story is the radical integration of leading-edge defense technology and a new approach to alliances, South Asia Research Scholar Arzan Tarapore argues.
AUKUS Is Deeper Than Just Submarines
Hero Image
All News button
1
Subtitle

The tentative conciliatory steps between nuclear-armed rivals at the LAC are important, but come with riders for India.

Subscribe to SAI
Top