Struggle Without Breaking: Behind the rising East Asian maritime tension

Dr Chong-Pin Lin, Adjunct Professor at the Graduate Institute of Strategic Studies at Taiwan’s National Defense University

A China Studies Centre Distinguished Speaker Lecture

14 May

In recent years, East Asian maritime disputes have become more frequent and intense with the backdrop of shifting regional power balance from US primacy to China rising. Two countervailing forces have been at work. On one hand, national leaders have found that external toughness yields internal returns, which has compelled the maritime tension to rise. Such factors include China’s post-2008 assertiveness, US expanding East Asian presence, and the growing territorial defiance of China’s neighbours.

On the other hand, rising economic interdependence has prevented the crisis caused by territorial disputes from boiling over into open military conflict. The restraining factors include Beijing’s decades-long guideline of ‘struggle without breaking’, the rising accommodation school in the US, and the hedging strategy of China’s neighbours.

As the shelf lives of the compelling factors are short, while those of the restraining factors are long. The propensity for tension to erupt beyond control is low.

In order to do that, it is necessary for Japan to pursue both Japan-US alliance and Japan-China entente as essentialities, allowing the long lasting anguish of having to choose between the West and Asia to be overcome. This is the ultimate aim of a country such as Japan which lies between two superpowers, as it also is in the case for Australia.

It is also important to carry on the opening-up of Japan as a hub in the network of Asia and the Pacific. This will allow Japan to contribute to the building of a regional architecture on the basis of fundamental values such as democracy, freedom, respect of human rights and the rule of law.

Dr Chong-Pin Lin

Dr Chong Pin Lin is Adjunct Professor at the Graduate Institute of Strategic Studies at Taiwan’s National Defense University. He served for eight years in the government of Republic of China as: Deputy Defense Minister (February 2003 - May 2004); Senior Advisor in the National Security Council ; the First Vice Chairman and Spokesman of the ministerial-level Mainland Affairs Council; and MAC Second Vice Chairman

From 1987 to 1995, he was Resident Scholar and the Associate Director of the Asian Studies Program at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington D.C. He taught from 1984 to 1995 alternatively as Sun Yat-Sen Chair Professor and Adjunct Professor at the Government Department and the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. From September 1995 to June 1996, he served as Professor and Director, Graduate Institute of Political Science, the National Sun Yat-Sen University in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. From August 2004 to July 2012, he was Professor at the Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University.

He has authored many books including China’s Nuclear Weapons Strategy (1988), and in Chinese, The Power of Dragon (1992), The Nuclear Hegemon (1999), Win With Wisdom (2005), Perchance Prescient (2008), Notes from an Earthly Journey (2009), and Global Shift: Exploring the Roots of Rising Disasters (2012). He has published in 15 international journals and 11 international newspapers including China Quarterly, and New York Times, respectively. In his oped writings, he has predicted four consecutive U.S. presidential elections between 2000 and 2012 (more info), and the ‘naked retirement’ of China’s leader Hu Jintao in 2012 (more info).