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Welcome to the 2019 New Zealand Political Studies Association Annual Conference

"Security, Community, Humanity"

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Friday, November 29 • 1:30pm - 3:00pm
Power Politics in Russia and Northeast Asia

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Khusrow Akkas Abbasi
The Emerging Nuclear Weapons Program of China and its Implications for International Security

In an increasingly globalized international system, the political-strategic relations among states are becoming more complex and interdependent, and threats are now both more diffuse and uncertain, and competition remains inherent to interstate relations, yet unpredictable. Additionally, it remains a fact that full-scale conflict involving nuclear weapons would be devastating for the entire globe. States seem to agree on the general need to cooperate and manage competition, but the details of how to move the relations forward on this basis remain unclear, particularly in critical areas where progress has been difficult to achieve, such as nuclear arms control and disarmament, nuclear deterrence and strategic stability, missile defence and space weaponization.
As China’s power in the international system rises, its strategic policies are changing. This includes its evolving nuclear program and nuclear deterrent, viewed as a critical guarantor of Beijing’s security and a tool that supports its growing regional and global interests. China’s emerging nuclear program and its nuclear use doctrine have multidimensional implications for not only international and regional security and strategic stability but also for non-proliferation regimes, and multilateral export control regimes.

Xiang Gao 
Responsible power diplomacy? China’s engagement with international normative community in the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’
This paper first examines how Chinese government has understood the concept of ‘state responsibility’ in foreign policy since 1978 through a content analysis of Beijing Review articles. Using the normative ideas generated from the content analysis, the research explores China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, especially state-led investment and overseas aid. While many western democracies and international organisations set preconditions for giving loans or investment to developing countries, such as meeting certain human right and representative democracy standards; generally China’s investment has occurred with ‘no strings attached’ in the developing world. This paper investigates how the Chinese government uses foreign investment to pursue its foreign policy goals in the BRI. Those Chinese foreign policy goals cannot simply be measured by material benefits or strategic calculation as many western scholars argued; nor are they pure reflection of China’s ‘benevolent power’ and ‘road of peace’, as contended by the Chinese government and some academics. This study focuses on the ‘social factors’ of Chinese power and responsibility in state-led foreign investment and aid, and argues that the BRI has provided China with a forum to engage the international community more broadly and promote its preferred values related to foreign investment and foreign aid.

Robert G Patman, Balazs Kiglics
US-China Rivalry and Japan: Is Tokyo’s Diplomacy Moving Beyond Constructive Ambiguity?

The 21st century has been an era of dynamic structural change for the Asia-Pacific where China, Japan, and the United States are key strategic powers. Our paper first considers the case made by John Mearsheimer, a prominent offensive realist scholar, that the US and China are destined to intensify their rivalry and the Asia-Pacific could be the region where “great power politics will return in full force,” ensnaring the two superpowers in a major war. Second, US-China tensions are examined in relation to the South China Sea dispute, North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme, and bilateral trade. Third, consideration is given to Japan’s diplomatic responses to the escalating superpower rivalry during the Obama and Trump administrations. There are signs Japan’s diplomacy is moving beyond constructive ambiguity. While Tokyo welcomes the Trump administration’s willingness to directly address Beijing’s military and economic assertiveness, it remains uncomfortable about particular methods chosen to do so. By joining the CPTPP and deepening its trade ties with the EU, Japan seems unwilling to allow its interests to be defined Mearsheimer-style by the two superpowers.

Peter Grace
Russian Revanchism since 2014: Overbalancing as a theory of mistakes

How do we account for Russia's revanchism since 2014? This paper attempts to explain Russian behaviour using neorealist balancing theory: specifically a reconceptualisation of the theory of overbalancing. Russia has responded to the problem of US predominance, and the perceived threat that the liberal internationalist policy the American unipole made for the Putin regime, by mobilising in a balancing action that sought to undermine US influence and coalesce other dissatisfied states against it. By dusting off balancing theory, this paper positions overbalancing as a 'theory of mistakes' which the system should be expected to duly punish.

Onat Isik
How has strategic culture affected Putin's conservative turn? A comparison of Ukraine and Crimea

In 2014, with the annexation of Crimea and the intervention in the east region of Ukraine, Russia’s foreign policy has come under close scrutiny. For some, Putin is trying to secure the legitimacy of his regime, but for others, by promoting the ethnic prejudices, nationalist voices and national values externall,y Putin is reacting defensively. Through the theory of strategic culture, this paper aims to highlight the role of history and the role of the culture behind Putin’s conservative turn. This the paper argues that the assertive foreign policy measures by Russia and the rise of nationalist voices in the political culture demonstrate the continuity of Russian strategic culture in international relations. During the times of Catherine the Great, ultraconservative Orthodox circles named Crimea and Ukraine as Novorossiya (New Russia). Today, these two key regions are perceived as part of the East Slavic Orthodox civilisation. This thesis will give special priority to the nationalist ideas, structures and language analogies of the critical thinkers in the 19th and 20th century Russia to indicate the influence of these ideas on the Russian culture; Russianness, Universalism, Gatherer of Lands, Orthodoxy, Russky Mir.


Patrick Flamm

Victoria University of Wellington


Khusrow Abbasi

University of Waikato

Xiang Gao

University of New England, Australia
avatar for Peter Grace

Peter Grace

PhD Candidate/Teaching Fellow, University of Otago
PhD candidate.

Onat Isik

University of Otago

Robert Patman

University of Otago

Balazs Kiglics

University of Otago

Friday November 29, 2019 1:30pm - 3:00pm NZDT
Eng Core 129, Meeting Rm 1 Engineering Core

Attendees (3)