Robert S. Ross


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As many observers argue, China’s foreign policy has become more assertive since Xi Jinping became President in 2013. The country once advocating its “peaceful rise” has stoked worries in many of its neighbors and is seen to increasingly pose a challenge towards America’s strong presence in the region. Caught in-between are the two Korean states, and especially South Korea, both in terms of its geographic location as well as its political and economic relations.

To learn more about China’s recent foreign policy and the prospects for the future of the region, we had the honor of interviewing Professor Robert S. Ross. We discussed the driving forces behind China’s foreign policy; what role America wants to, should and does currently play in East Asia; and the position of the Korean Peninsula in this context.

Robert S. Ross is Professor of Political Science at Boston College, an Associate at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies of Harvard University, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He has written extensively on Chinese security and defense policy, as well as on East Asian international relations, in several books and numerous academic articles. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University in 1984.

“In many respects, Chinese policy towards North Korea is the most constructive of any country in East Asia – and that includes the United States. […] In US policy towards Cuba, we would call that engagement, because we believe that engagement helps to promote economic and political reform. China’s policy towards North Korea is basically a similar policy of engagement.”

The interview was recorded on October 18th, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio.