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Queen's University

Centre for International and Defence Policy

Middle Powers and the Rise of China

Andrew O'Neil, Bruce Gilley, and Kim Richard Nossal


The rise of China as a confident and powerful foreign policy actor presents a number of challenges and opportunities to the member states of the international system. The bulk of policy debates on the international response to China‘s rise have thus far focused on implications for the United States and other powerful actors in the system such as the EU, Japan and Russia. To the extent that analysis has been concerned with non great powers, it has explored the response of China‘s neighbours to its emergence. Analysts have debated whether East Asian states are balancing against China‘s power by siding with the United States, or whether they are bandwagoning with China. This debate has led to new and intriguing questions about the nature of power, the effect of socialization and even the suitability of the Western historical experience as an analytical tool to analyse East Asian politics.  Absent from these debates has been an in‐depth analysis of the response of middle powers, which can defined as secondary states with tangible influence at the international (as distinct from regional) level and which possesses relative global material power capabilities behind the great powers but in the top one third of all states. This project focuses on the implications of China’s rise for middle powers. The scope includes both the meaning and changing nature of middle powers, the ways in which China’s rise is reshaping their international security, economic, ecological, and governance environment, and the structural incentives for different middle powers to pursue different foreign policy responses. The project takes middle powers as critical players in the international system because of their role as norm entrepreneurs, system supporters, and swing actors. For more information, contact Professor Gilley...


Robert Sutherland Hall, Ste 403
Tel: (1) 613.533.2381
Fax: (1) 613.533.6885