Rising Powers

September 23, 2010

A panel of experts discusses China, India and Russia at the Elliott School of International Affairs.

Earlier this week, the Elliott School of International Affairs hosted a policy briefing on worldviews of China, India and Russia.

About 100 people attended Wednesday’s briefing, which was held at the 1957 E Street’s City View Room and was a part of a series of events under the Rising Powers Initiative, a major research program focused on global security.

The Rising Powers Initiative, which is led by GW international affairs faculty members Deepa Ollapally, Henry R. Nau and Mike Mochizuki, is funded by a $349,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and a $300,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The aim of the initiative is to enhance scholarship, raise public policy awareness and inform international policymaking on global security issues.

Sitting on the  “Worldviews of China, India & Russia: Power Shifts & Domestic Deals”  panel Wednesday were Dr. Ollapally, David Shambaugh, a political science and international affairs professor and Andrew Kuchins, the director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Dr. Ollapally, associate director of GW’s Sigur Center for Asian Studies, an international research center at the Elliott School, spoke about India’s “strategic ambiguity.”

“India’s had a long continuity of incremental changes, which leads people to get very impatient with India,” said Dr. Ollapally. “India wants to keep all of its options open, but as India rises, it’s very unlikely they’ll have strategic ties and alliances with other countries.”

Dr. Shambaugh, director of GW’s China Policy Program, said no country contemplates itself as a rising power more explicitly than China.

“China is very concerned about its lack of respect in the international community and is throwing a lot of resources towards increasing that,” he said.

But Dr. Shambaugh described China as schizophrenic.

“China has an identity crisis as they often display contradictory and confusing acts,” he said.

And Mr. Kuchins said it’s hard to predict Russia’s actions.

“Russians pride themselves on being the unpredictable country,” he said.

In the past few decades, Russia has been viewed as both a rising and declining power with the height and collapse of the Soviet Union.

“Russia continues to face challenges to catch up with its competitors,” he said.

The Rising Powers Initiative consists of two main projects. Worldviews of Aspiring Powers: Exploring Foreign Policy Debates Abroad focuses on identifying and tracking the internal policy debates around national security and international economic policymaking in five major and rising powers: China, Japan, India, Russia and Iran. Power and Identity in Asia: Implications for Regional Cooperation examines how identity issues and power transitions affect the international policies of China, India, Japan, Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

To return to the George Washington Today homepage, click here.

GW Research Blog