Podcast: China’s Coming War with Asia

Podcast: China’s Coming War with Asia

from Asia Unbound

More on:


Global Governance

United States

Diplomacy and International Institutions


Jonathan Holslag, professor of international politics at the Free University of Brussels, in his terrific new book China’s Coming War with Asia puts forth the provocative thesis that war between China and Asia is inevitable. Driven by four grand aspirations—integration of frontier lands, popular support of the Party, international recognition of Chinese sovereignty, and recovery of lost territories—the Chinese leadership has embarked on a journey from which it will not deviate. As Holslag argues in our discussion, no amount of engagement or encouragement by the rest of the world to help China become a “responsible stakeholder” will change the country’s fundamental ambition for power and its drive to stake its claim as the dominant regional player. For Holslag, whether the Chinese economy sputters, stagnates, or soars, the end result is increasing tensions in the region and greater prospects for conflict. In Holslag’s words, “Asia is in for another tragedy of great power politics.” Ultimately, Holslag’s perspective is rather persuasive if pessimistic. Still, I hold out hope that a black swan event may ultimately save the day.

Elizabeth C. Economy

C. V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies