Research and Analysis

On this page you’ll find links to some of my publications.

Washington sees Indian power as part of the solution to the challenges posed by the rise of China. But an objective assessment of Chinese and Indian national interests and international actions suggests that each will pose significant challenges to U.S. interests, albeit of different kinds.  China is the more powerful of the two rising powers and has greater potential to challenge the United States directly. However, conflicts during periods of power transition are not limited to those between the dominant state/s and the single most powerful rising state. Lesser rising powers can and historically have compounded the diplomatic, economic, or military challenge to the status quo. Rising Chinese and Indian power may spell double trouble for American interests [The Washington Quarterly, Summer 2013].

In the current era of shifting security challenges and tightening budget constraints, the United States should rebuild its offensive naval mine warfare capabilities.  An offensive naval mining capability could be a powerful deterrent against attacks by potential challengers such as Iran [The National Interest, 2012]. Naval mine warfare has been neglected by the United States. To the extent it is considered at all, the main focus has been on U.S. defensive mine countermeasures.  Offensive mining could be a relatively low-cost, highly effective complement to other U.S. warfighting capabilities.

Idealists from both the left and the right of America’s political spectrum would like to use American foreign policy as a tool for implementing change in other countries.  Such efforts have produced questionable results at very high cost.  Rather than foreign policy idealism, a nuanced realism is a better guide to American foreign and security policy.  I have written on this most recently in a book on China and India co-authored with Eric Heginbotham [Cambridge University Press, 2012], but Eric and I have been thinking about “Getting Realism” for some time [The National Interest 2002].

In early 2012 the United States found itself directly (if unwillingly) involved in two incidents that put China’s chronic instabilities on display.  In the first, a Chinese police official entered the U.S. consulate in Chengdu, precipitating an international scandal and the downfall of one of China’s most senior political figures, Bo Xilai.  In the second, a blind Chinese rights protection activist, Chen Guangcheng, made a dramatic escape from brutal conditions of house arrest in Shandong province and found U.S. diplomatic protection in Beijing.  The two events appear to be bookends – one emerging from the highest ranks of the elite and one from the grassroots of society.  But the background to both is the ongoing, tumultuous process of social and political transformation in China [Foreign Affairs, 2001].

The central dilemma for China’s leaders is this: how can the Communist Party continue to govern an increasingly complex and robust society? [Foreign Affairs 2010]  There are multiple options for resolving this dilemma, many of which could split the elite leadership.  In recent years Beijing slowed the pace of social and political reform, and took some steps backward compared to the 1980s.  But social conflict and the increasing wealth and capability of Chinese people continue to push change forward [The Washington Quarterly, 2008]. Social conflict is an important but unpredictable source of change.  Without reforms, conflict will continue to rise in a number of guises, as the cases of Bo Xilai and Chen Guangcheng illustrate, each in its own way. In addition to official corruption, two grave sources of social conflict in China are rising disparities of income and conflict over land [Current History, 2004].

To continue to grow, many economists believe China must shift to a “new” model of development aimed at redressing imbalances in the financial system, international trade, household incomes, state-owned monopolies, and the environment. A new model should place greater emphasis on consumption, services, and innovation. However, Chinese firms face obstacles to successful innovation, embedded in China’s political, industrial, and legal institutions [Foreign Affairs, 2004]. These shape a Chinese industrial strategic culture that undermines innovation capacity, especially relative to the East Asian “miracle” economies such as Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.  Although Chinese companies have made significant incremental improvements to their technological capabilities, political and social obstacles to indigenous innovation remain a serious problem if China is to find a new economic model.

Here is a brief introduction to some of the best books and articles on China’s economy [Foreign Affairs 2009].

If you can read Chinese, here is a .pdf of one of my Chinese language publications. [经济研究 (Economic Research), 2010]. This one, co-authored with Zhong Ninghua, examines how errors in the application of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) methodology can distort economic analysis and international comparison.

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