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Centre for Geopolitics

Providing historically-grounded approaches to enduring geopolitical problems.

The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) rapid ascension as a global power in the 21st Century has raised conceptual problems and strategic challenges for policymakers.  PRC no longer fits within traditional classifications of “rising powers” or the third world, and its foreign policy is no longer one of South-South cooperation under the broad constraints of a Western-centric liberal order. The American foreign and economic policy revisions under the Trump Administration is the most notable and significant response to this power transition, but its particular ideological and intellectual foundation may not provide the right solution for Britain, European and Asian powers. 

The “Rising China” programme critically examines these developments. Contemporary and historical China is studied as the prime mover of a rapidly changing global and regional order. Traditional realist thinking in international relations maps nations onto a power hierarchy based on aggregate national economic and military capabilities, and focuses on behavioural predictions about conflict and cooperation. However, the very nature of an ascending power with global aspirations is that it creates additional ideational dynamism and systemic risks for other strategic actors, as its identity and strategies change along with its growing influence and enhanced capabilities to shape outcomes. Harnessing China's revisionist and transformative potentials to support collective progress of our shared humanity is the single most important challenge for global governance in the coming decades.

Dr Kun-chin Lin has collaborative projects on the impact of rising China on global governance in areas of sustainable development, trade and finance, infrastructure provision, and multilateral institutions. For example, the UK and its Commonwealth and Asian allies have a long-standing strategic and commercial presence in the Indo-Pacific region, the importance of which is reinforced in their collective defense of a rule-based regional order in Asia. The most pressing geo-economic issue for the next decades is how we will respond to the expansion of PRC’s economic presence in the region – currently framed and financed under the Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI). The primary, non-traditional security objective of Chinese investments in ports and logistics in Asia is to restructure the regional production network away from a traditional reliance on US and EU markets, towards one that “localizes” value-added manufacturing and services in Asia with the Chinese economy as the source of finance, technological and consumption drivers of regional and global growth. The sinews of this emerging global value chain (GVC) are enhanced connectivity via shipping and logistics, on which emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things, 3D printing, 5G, and trans-regional energy production and trade could be applied to restructure domestic economies in Asia and the Middle East toward increasing dependence on China. The programme will bring an interdisciplinary, multi-stakeholder approach to address the long-term geopolitical tensions and contentions arising from these new nodes of economic power and exchange, and will assess a range of national and private sector responses such as protectionism in bilateral trade and new regional free trade blocs.