The Estonian Foreign Policy Institute (EFPI) at the ICDS had the pleasure of inviting Bonnie Glaser to speak on “China’s Power Projection Efforts – Near & Far”, encompassing topics ranging from China’s regional and global policies, disinformation during the Covid-19 crisis, and China’s influence overseas in political, economic, and ideological manners. The discussion was the last one in EFPI’s series entitled “Understanding China’s Power” and was moderated by Frank Jüris, research fellow of EFPI at the ICDS.
Bonnie S. Glaser is the director of the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. She was previously senior adviser for Asia and the director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Glaser is concomitantly a nonresident fellow with the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, and a senior associate with the Pacific Forum. For more than three decades, Glaser has worked at the intersection of Asia-Pacific geopolitics and U.S. policy. She is the host of the German Marshall Fund’s “China Global” podcast.
During her presentation, Glaser focused on various aspects that make up the intricacies of Chinese foreign policy, including its regional interests in Taiwan, island chains, and the South China Sea, as well as China’s desire for a reduction of U.S. military presence in the region. Global goals were also analyzed in depth, focusing in on what Glaser termed “the ways and means of China’s Grand Strategy”, including its’ aspiration of technological dominance. As Glaser described, technological “dominance will help China to shape the international order in its preferred direction”.
Through both incentive and coercive practices, such as the Belt and Road Initiative, the purchasing of foreign companies, and economic punishments, China’s foreign policy aims to expand its sphere of influence beyond its country and region. As shown by Glaser’s extensive list of economically coercive measures such as blocks, boycotts and cutting ties that China has implemented in response to other countries ‘undesirable’ policies, one can see China’s sphere of influence is not limited to its neighborhood, but effects areas far from it geographically, such as Australia, Canada and Europe (as seen recently in the example of Lithuania).
This combination of policy direction and aspirations, coupled with China’s attempts to establish new values on the world stage, culminate to provide an overview of China’s toolbox in, to use Glaser’s phrase, a potential attempt to “revise the international order”.
But although these aforementioned policies are seemingly opposed to the current ‘world order,’ Glaser’s presentation poses us the question, “is cooperation possible?” This question is complex and one that requires in-depth situational analyses. Topics discussed such as climate change, global health crises, as well as nuclear non-proliferation present opportunities for cooperation, but pose the question of how this cooperation can be executed.
Following Glaser’s presentation, editors Bart Gaens, Frank Jüris and Kristi Raik introduced their recently published book “Nordic-Baltic Connectivity with Asia via the Arctic: Assessing Opportunities and Risks”. The book, published by EFPI/ICDS in cooperation with the Finnish Institute of International Affairs and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, provides insights into the Artic region and the influence of other actors within, including China, the European Union and Russia.
An insightful question and answer session with Glaser followed the book presentation and covered a multitude of topics ranging from China’s position in Afghanistan, Covid-19, climate change and China’s view of Europe.
This was the last exchange of views in a series of four discussions on understanding China’s power with renowned international lecturers.
The first discussion in the series was held in February 2020. We discussed China’s long-term goals for trade and investments in Europe with Philippe Le Corre (FR), a research associate at the Harvard Kennedy School and a non-resident senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Find out more here.
In the second discussion with Sean R. Roberts (US), Darren Byler (US) and Ondřej Klimeš (CZ) focused on human righst abuses in Xinjiang. It is a lengthy conflict between Uyghurs and the modern Chinese state in settling Xinjiang, an area of importance for China’s both economic and ethnic policy. Using digital surveillance and placing Uyghurs in camps, the state is conducting a “slow genocide” in Xinjiang. However, the issue is not just a domestic one. China has been working to put psychological pressure on the large Uyghur diaspora in Turkey, and therefore the relations with Turkey are very important for China. Click here to read the full summary and watch the discussion again.
The third one explored China’s power in the EU. François Godement (FR), Jerker Hellström (SE) and Didi Kirsten Tatlow elaborated on China’s tangible interests in the EU and successes/failures at achieving them, threats accompanying economic cooperation with China and EU’s options to defend itself from these threats. Click here to read the full summary and watch the discussion again.