Ásia-Pacífico Entrevistas

“Japan and India: soft balancing as a reaction to China's rise?”, an interview with Wellington Amorim and Antonio Henrique Lucena da Silva conceded to Rafael Monteiro Manechini

Autores de artigo publicado na RBPI Especial falam em entrevista sobre as relações entre a China e o Japão

1) Keeping in mind some aspects of this study, such as the “India-Japan-United States trilateral dialogue”, how do you analyse the importance of the USA in the soft balancing against China? 

Applying Mearsheimer’s approach, we could consider the Iraq War as a means to hinder any possibility of Iran’s turning into a major regional hegemon in the Middle East. With that “mission accomplished” (sic), the US could start the process of containing China (and avoiding a potential regional hegemon in East Asia). In fact, in 2005, with the nuclear deal with India, the US starts using China’s major rivals in the region in an evolving security concert. Although the US also applies an engagement policy towards China, most of the countries in the region are starting to fear some Chinese stances, especially those related to maritime border disputes, and those issues enforce US containment policy.

2) How do you measure the changes in the balance of power if India or Japan manage to secure a permanent seat in United Nations Security Council as they have been claiming for?

The changes in the UNSC are still in the air, since there are no hints if the new permanent members will have the veto power of the present ones. China and Russia have already supported India’s entry as a permanent member (as well as Brazil and South Africa’s entry). But increasing the number of members doesn’t mean a massive change in the balance of power, as we could observe in the case of G-20 (after 2008’ economic crisis). G-20 didn’t really become as effective as G-7 (or even G-8) in terms of economic governance. India’s chances of a permanent seat in the UNSC are better than Japan’s, but the whole issue is still a shot in the dark.

3) Along the article it is shown how India and Japan are “getting closer” to offer a soft balancing regarding China’s constant economic and military rise. Although it is difficult to say what may happen next (as quoted from Mearshimer), do you see any possibility of a hard balancing, a bandwagoning or even a buck passing in the future? Do you have any projections?

I would quote Mark Twain, since “it’s very difficult to make projections, especially about the future” ☺. Anyhow, let’s try it.

  1. A hard balancing scenario – Possible, especially if a hard nationalist tone reigns over the domestic politics of the major countries (influencing their foreign policies) and they don’t step back in some border disputes. Nevertheless, we should stress that  this scenario is potentially destabilizing for the world economy;;
  2. Bandwagoning – Possible, but not very probable, since it would happen only in the case of the US disengaging from the region. Some analysts recall the Monroe Doctrine, when Great Britain in fact left the Americas to US. But in the XIX century the most dynamic region in the world, in economic terms, wasn’t Latin America. Disengaging from Asia would mean losing capacity to intervene in an area which is vital to America’s interests. And, according to Mearsheimer, it would leave an open door to China becoming a regional hegemon and therefore becoming a menace to the US in the Americas.
  3. Buckpassing – Possible, but also depending on US stance. To leave the whole burden of containing China to India and Japan is feasible, but what if those two countries start to taking decisions not according to American interests? Perhaps a soft buckpassing  is what is happening now, but a controlled one. Countries in the region, if aware of a waning US presence, may bandwagon to China.

4) What were your motivations to write and study about Asian International Relations?

My Master’s thesis (at University of Brasilia) dealt with the economic relationship between Japan and Brazil. Afterwards, I spent almost two years as a researcher in Tsukuba University (Japan). There, I came to know people from all over Asia and my interest kept growing after returning to Brazil. Since 2007, I teach East and Southeast Asia International Relations at La Salle University, in Rio de Janeiro. It has been very gratifying, since Asian (and African, Middle Eastern, etc,) affairs aren’t well developed in most of Brazilian universities, unfortunately.

5) Is it important that an alternate view on China – other than northern countries’ – is being published in southern countries like Brazil? Why?

As I have told before, Asia is important to Brazil but there are very few Brazilian specialists. If we don’t know about Asian countries and Asian affairs, all of our dealings with them will be directed by their guidelines, not ours. If our country really aspires to be a global power, it needs to develop a global perspective.

Another important issue is the possibility of analyzing an area without a colonial view. Most of the big northern powers have a past full of colonial incidents with and within China. This leads to an almost immediate negative view, by many of them.  Therefore, a certain (historical) distance can help blending our  “southern” view with a proper dose of  “balancing” (sic).

Read the article: 

AMORIM, Wellington; SILVA, Antonio Henrique Lucena da. Japan and India: soft balancing as a reaction to China’s rise?. Rev. bras. polít. int.,  Brasília ,  v. 57, n. spe,   2014 .   Available from <http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0034-73292014000300073&lng=en&nrm=iso&gt;. access on  19  Nov.  2014.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/0034-7329201400205.

Wellington Amorim University La Salle Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil (wda3059@gmail.com)

Antonio Henrique Lucena da Silva Departament of Political Science, Fluminense Federal University, Niterói, RJ, Brazil (antoniohnriquels@gmail.com)

 Rafael Monteiro Manechini is member of the Program of Tutorial Education in International Relations at University of Brasília -PET-REL and of the International Relations Analysis Lab – LARI (rafa.montm@gmail.com)

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