China as a Hegemonic Challenge?

Many U.S. foreign policy analysts argue for a military buildup in Asia based on the claim that, absent strong American action, China will assert itself as the dominant hegemonic power in Asia. A hostile foreign power dominating Asia would clearly be against America’s interests. But we cannot simply assume that even China could dominate a region of the size, wealth, and diversity of Asia. A deeper understanding of China’s capability to actually exert dominance in Asia is critical to understanding what America’s stance in the region should be. 

This panel explored the challenges to any power that would seek hegemony in Asia, how they relate to China’s goals and capacities, and the level of U.S. military investment needed to prevent such a hegemon from emerging. Join us for a discussion featuring Derek Grossman, Senior Defense Analyst at the Rand Corporation, Jennifer Kavanagh, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Steven Kosiak, Non-Resident Fellow at the Quincy Institute and partner at ISK Strategies. Michael Swaine, senior research fellow at the Quincy Institute, moderated.


Derek Grossman

Derek Grossman is a senior defense analyst at RAND focused on a range of national security policy and Indo-Pacific security issues. He closely tracks intensifying U.S.-China competition throughout the region. He has led or participated in numerous RAND studies assessing regional responses to competition, with a particular emphasis on Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Pacific Island states, Philippines, Vietnam, and Taiwan. Before RAND, Grossman served over a decade in the Intelligence Community, where he served as the daily intelligence briefer to the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and to the assistant secretary of defense for Asian & Pacific Security Affairs. He also served at the National Security Agency and worked at the CIA on the President's Daily Brief staff.

Jennifer Kavanagh

Jennifer Kavanagh is a senior fellow in the American Statecraft Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. A political scientist by training, she has spent her career studying national security threats and their consequences for U.S. foreign policy and defense strategy. At Carnegie, Kavanagh’s research explores dynamics in contemporary geopolitics, with a focus on relationships between major powers, including the United States, European Union, Russia, and China. Prior to joining Carnegie, Kavanagh was a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, where she led projects focused on deterrence, military interventions, and U.S. military posture for defense and national security clients.

Steven Kosiak

Steven Kosiak is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Quincy Institute and a nationally-recognized expert on the US defense and international affairs budgets, with extensive experience in national security planning and budgeting. He is also a partner with ISM Strategies, a Washington, DC based consulting firm that provides high-value counsel, expert assessments and other strategic support to a range of clients working in the defense and international affairs fields. Areas of expertise include the federal budget process, especially within the Executive Branch, and the national security planning and budgeting processes within the Executive Office of the President, as well as the programs and budgets of the Department of Defense, and the Department of State and other international affairs Agencies.

Michael Swaine

Michael D. Swaine is a Senior Research Fellow in the Quincy Institute's East Asia program and one of the most prominent American scholars of Chinese security studies. He comes to QI from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he worked for nearly twenty years as a senior fellow specializing in Chinese defense and foreign policy, U.S.-China relations, and East Asian international relations. Swaine served as a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation. Swaine has authored and edited more than a dozen books and monographs, including "Remaining Aligned on the Challenges Facing Taiwan" (with Ryo Sahashi; 2019) and "Conflict and Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region: A Strategic Net Assessment"(with Nicholas Eberstadt et al; 2015)