Strategic Triangles Reshaping International Relations in East Asia  book cover
1st Edition

Strategic Triangles Reshaping International Relations in East Asia

ISBN 9781032283135
Published June 21, 2022 by Routledge
148 Pages

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Book Description

Rozman shows how East Asia’s international relations over three decades can be best understood through the lens of triangles, analyzing relations between the key nations through a series of trilateral relationships.

He argues that triangles present a convincing answer to the question of whether we had entered a new era of bipolarity like the Cold War or an age of multipolarity. Triangulation emerged as a dynamic in East Asia in the aftermath of the Cold War and was accelerated in the course of the Xi and Trump administrations. Even as Sino-US competition and confrontation deepened, triangles had a substantial presence. East Asian triangles share an unusual mixture of three distinct elements: deep-seated security distrust, extraordinary economic interdependence, and a combustible composition of historical resentments and civilizational confidence. The combination of the three makes the case for triangularity more compelling, Rozman argues. The legacy of communism, the pursuit of reunification on the Korean Peninsula, and moves to expand beyond the US-Japan alliance have all driven the way triangles have evolved. Only as bipolarity intensified in the 2020s was triangularity losing ground. The degree of turnabout is analyzed for all of the cases considered.

Rozman evaluates each key triangle of states in turn and assesses how the relationship impacts the region more widely.

This book provides an essential framework for understanding the current state and trajectory of East Asian international relations, for students and policymakers.

The Open Access version of this book, available at, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: How Triangularity Changed the New Face of East Asia Part One: The Legacy of the Cold War 2. China, Russia, the United States: The New Face of the Grand Strategic Triangle 3. China, Russia, North Korea: The Shadow of the Socialist Bloc 4. China, North Korea, the United States: The Shadow of the Cold War Part Two: South Korea as the Pivot of Transformation 5. South Korea, China, the United States: The Pivot of Regional Transformation 6. China, South Korea, Japan: The Renewed Core Regional Triangle 7. South Korea, Japan, the United States: The New face of the Alliance Triangle Part Three: New Tests for the Japan-US Alliance 8. Japan, China, the United States: The Core Great Power Triangle 9. Japan, the United Stages, Russia: The Test for Boundary Crossing 10. Japan, the United States, Australia, India: The Quad – an Exception 11. Conclusion: Triangularity Adjusts to Bipolarity

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Gilbert Rozman is the Emeritus Musgrave Professor of Sociology at Princeton University, USA–where he taught for 43 years. He is the editor-in-chief of The Asan Forum, a bi-monthly online journal on international relations in the Indo-Pacific region. His research over the years has concentrated on countries in Northeast Asia, including China, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the United States, and their relations to each other. He has relied heavily on primary sources from these countries. Among other frameworks, he has explored how national identities shape bilateral relations, developing an interdisciplinary social science approach outside the mainstream.