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CPSA/ISA-Canada section on International Relations

C03(a) - Workshop: America's Relative Decline and Power Transition Eastward

Date: Jun 4 | Time: 10:30am to 12:00pm | Location: SWING 307

Chair/Président/Présidente : Rosalind Warner (Okanagan College)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Rosalind Warner (Okanagan College)

China and the Politics of Social Responsibility: Trade, Corruption and Sustainable Development in the Asian Century: Robert Hanlon (Thompson Rivers University)
Abstract: This paper argues that ‘social responsibility’ has become an emerging trade issue that is shaping how China’s foreign policy architects court an increasingly fractured liberal order. In an era where the United States’ commitment to multilateralism is wavering, prominent thinkers are now asking whether global power dynamics are shifting to Asia. Donald Trump’s hostility towards trade regimes coupled with Beijing’s effort to advance a more assertive foreign policy is disrupting traditional trade networks. Illiberal China is ironically evolving as the principle advocate of the liberal trading order. This paper offers three arguments. First, Western actors are advancing ideational notions of social responsibility to compete against ethically questionable firms based throughout the Global South. Second, Western fears of a rising China and a waning ability to compete with the emerging power serve as a driver for advancing social responsibility as a new paradigm within global trade narratives. Finally, this paper hopes to show how China is similarly promoting concepts of social responsibility that align with Beijing’s policy interests. However, ‘social responsibility with Chinese characteristics’ diverges from Western doctrine since it seeks to legitimize Beijing’s development trajectory by advancing economic competitiveness and domestic political stability. Therefore, China is aggressively challenging Western notions of social responsibility with a counter-narrative that does not include themes of political liberalization.

China’s Rise: Hegemonic Stability Theory and Large States’ Preference for Open Economic Exchange: Pascale Massot (University of Ottawa)
Abstract: There are two key components of Hegemonic Stability Theory (HST) that are relevant to China’s rise and relationship to the world economy. This paper seeks to reinterpret them in light of 21st century dynamics. First, HST predicts instability in the absence of an economic hegemon. A common interpretation is that China’s rise will lead to economic nationalist behaviour and to conflict. Yet there is ample evidence that Chinese behaviour varies, and that it does include behaviour in line with established global institutions. How can we explain this variation? Second, some HST scholars posit that an emerging hegemon will find it in its interest to force open global markets (Gilpin, 1977; Krasner, 1976; Lake, 1988). This may have been true for the UK and the U.S., but what to make of China’s emergence, both in terms of whether it has a preference for open markets, but also because it emerged to face a global economy that was already defined as open and liberal? I argue that we can find an answer to these questions by first, defining open markets, second, by revisiting historical hegemonic preferences for open markets, and third, by paying attention to relations of market power between Chinese and international market stakeholders in different areas of the global economy.

America’s Allies and the Decline of US Hegemony: Jonathan Paquin (Université Laval)
Abstract: Absent from current discussions on the fate of liberal international order is the response to this daunting challenge by U.S. democratic allies. Having striven to help build the current order, which brought stability and growth for over 70 years, how do U.S. democratic allies perceive and (re)construct the multiple challenges associated with the decline of America’s power and the rise of China? The paper argues that current threats to the liberal international order do not have the same meaning from one democratic ally to another. It also stresses that we need to take a clear-eyed look at what is being said and done in U.S. allies’ capitals if we wish to have a better idea of what lies ahead for the current order.

La politique de Défense des petits États d’Europe du Nord dans un environnement multipolaire: Philippe Dumas (École nationale d’administration publique), Stéphane Roussel (École nationale d’Administration publique)
Abstract: L’environnement dans lequel évoluent les petits États s’est transformé depuis le début des années 2000. Non seulement ne parle-t-on plus de « l’après-guerre froide », mais certains évoquent même l’émergence d’un monde multipolaire, voire « post-américain ». Les indices étayant l’hypothèse d’un repli des États-Unis, d’une montée en puissance de la Chine et d’une résurgence de la Russie se multiplient, ce qui ne peut que devenir un élément du calcul que font les autres États dans l’élaboration de leur politique de défense. Dans ce contexte, la contribution proposée ici vise à déterminer comment certains petits États occidentaux perçoivent les changements systémiques et, s’il y a lieu, tentent de s’y adapter. Plus précisément, elle porte sur six États, soit trois alliés des États-Unis (Norvège, Danemark, Islande) et trois États neutres (Irlande, Suède, Finlande), à des fins de comparaison. Compte tenu de leur position géographique, un accent particulier est porté sur la dimension arctique, soit une région où la présence russe est très marquée et à l’égard de laquelle la Chine exprime un intérêt soutenu. Trois questions guident l'examen de ces six cas : 1. Quelle est la perception de la distribution de la puissance et des menaces que pose cette configuration? 2. Dans ce contexte, quels rôles les États se donnent-ils en matière de défense? 3. Quelles sont les stratégies qui découlent de cette lecture de l’environnement et de ces rôles? Les hypothèses qui orientent la réflexion visent à établir un lien entre la perception qu’entretiennent les dirigeants politiques de l’environnement stratégique dans lequel évolue leur État et les