US’s Response to ‘Rise of China’: Assessing India and Japan’s Security Challenges and Dilemmas

Shamshad A. Khan

Assistant Professor of International Relations, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, BITS Pilani, Dubai Campus, UAE. Visiting Associate Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies, New Delhi. E-mail:


America’s strategic response to the rise of China and the perceived security challenges it poses to the West-led liberal international order are mainly based on China’s projected economic strength. A group of observers have taken China’s economic strength into account to predict its future behaviour. It is true that China had surpassed Japan as the number two economy in the world in 2010 and will likely surpass the US in 2028, as a study conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research suggests. Undoubtedly, China will have sufficient capital to invest in its defence modernisation. However, while speculating on a perceived threat from the ‘rise of China,’ many other factors must also be included to reach a correct assessment. These include China’s internal challenges, such as economic and demographic vulnerabilities, which have been largely ignored in the studies on the Chinese threat theory. More so, a counterbalancing strategy against China, which a group of experts suggests, will likely lead to an arms race between the US and China. The arms race will have a ripple effect on Asian security. The two regional powers and immediate neighbours of China – India and Japan – are also expected to augment their security by increasing their defence budgets, given the imminence of the arms race. However, while these reports suggest that New Delhi and Tokyo join the US efforts to counterbalance a rising China, India and China’s economic conditions and domestic factors must also be considered, which have been mainly ignored by the security analysts while framing the Chinese threat theory. It must be assessed whether the two Asian democracies have the economic wherewithal to tackle China’s strength. The paper, against this background, maps the US’s strategic response to tackle China’s rise and the challenges and dilemmas it poses to India and Japan

Keywords US-China rivalry. Indo-Pacific. Quad. Rise of China. India-Japan Relations . Global Order. Liberal International Order