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Alliances and order in the "Asian Century"




White, Hugh

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Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group


This essay explores the relationship between alliances and the changing international order in Asia over the coming decades. It starts from two simple propositions. The first is that economic growth in Asia, especially in China, marks a fundamental shift in the distribution of economic weight, which is driving an equally fundamental shift in strategic power, and that this, in turn, is putting great pressure on the international order that has prevailed in Asia since the end of the Vietnam War (White 2008). The second is that alliances, specifically the set of bilateral security alliances collectively known as the San Francisco System, are the oldest and strongest international institutions in the Asia-Pacific region. It is natural to expect that if any of the region�s institutions � bilateral or multilateral � are going to have a significant influence on how the Asian order responds to the pressures of shifting power relativities, it will be these alliances that do so (see, for example, Cha 2011). Nonetheless I argue in the following pages that despite their impressive appearance of solidity and durability, the alliances of the San Francisco System will do little to shape whatever new order evolves in Asia, but will themselves probably be profoundly changed by it.






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Bilateralism, Multilateralism and Asia-Pacific Security: Contending Cooperation

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