Defence was not the top priority in China’s post-1978 “Four Modernizations”, but with the spectacular flouresence of the Chinese economy has come a growing naval capacity and a desire to lead in the Western Pacific – China’s “near abroad”.
This ambition, normal for a rising Power, collides with a Japan that is loosening its post-WWII military restrictions, and a US “re-balancing” of its own military to the Pacific theatre. China has combined its increased naval capacity with an interpretation of maritime law that is not accepted by many of its maritime neighbours. Will Chinese policies lead to a “Pax Sinica” in the Western Pacific, or risk open conflict with its neighbours and the United States?
Since 2008 Mr. Houlden has been responsible for the management of the China Institute at the University of Alberta. He is a member of the Alberta Asia Advisory Council, and a Governor of the International Development Research Centre. He joined the Canadian Foreign Service in 1976. Twenty-two years of his service were on Chinese affairs. His last posting was as Director General of the East Asian Bureau of the Foreign Affairs and International Trade.