Session Summary: Great Power Competition in East Asia

Yasuhide Nakayama, State Minister of Defense, Ministry of Defense of Japan (virtually) 

Bruno Maçães, Senior Research Associate, Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, Lisbon 

Torrey Taussig, Nonresident Fellow, Foreign Policy, Center on the United States and Europe, The Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C. (virtually) 

Kinga Brudzinska, Policy Director, Centre for Global Europe, GLOBSEC Policy Institute, Bratislava  

Led by: Emily Tamkin, U.S. Editor, New Statesman, Washington, D.C.


At the Brussel Summit earlier this week, NATO leaders have agreed that China presents a challenge to transatlantic partnership and its activities must be further monitored. The Chinese activities home and abroad indicate that currently, we might be finding ourselves within a new great power competition, a situation that calls upon a stronger cooperation on a joint approach. 

The expansion of the Chinese nuclear arsenal, the rapid development of emerging and disruptive technologies, or investments within the Belt and Road Initiative, are some of the activities raising not only military but also geopolitical concerns. There is an apprehension that small and medium-sized power may be getting lost in this competition and may find themselves in a difficult position on China’s foreign policy. However, as Kinga Brudzinska has pointed out, at the time there is rather prevailing disappointment and disillusionment over what China is offering and what it is actually able to deliver. Therefore, future policies should focus on building viable alternatives and competitive economies. 

Yasuhide Nakayama, the Japanese State Minister of Defence, is deeply concerned about Chinese activities and acts of assertive foreign policy. He hopes that European states and the US will formulate a joint strategy to strengthen peace with democratic principles. He welcomes the previous cooperation, such as joint exercises and training, but also stresses the necessity of “not losing the momentum”. Another area, where there is a lot of room to grow for mutual cooperation, is the protection of outer space.

The factors weakening democracies from outside and from within could present a significant threat to achieving this close cooperation. Resilience-building and strengthening of democratic principles is hence a critical component of addressing the region of East Asia.