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Palgrave Macmillan

The Ascendancy of Regional Powers in Contemporary US-China Relations

Rethinking the Great Power Rivalry

  • Book
  • © 2023


  • Focuses on how smaller states influence great power politics, and US-China relations in particular
  • Tempers the Western-centric approach to studying regional and great power dynamics
  • Highlights in an accessible way the importance of smaller state agency in the international system

Part of the book series: Global Foreign Policy Studies (GFPS)

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Table of contents (15 chapters)


About this book

Great power competition is back on the world stage, and today’s international system is home to regional influences on great power relations that cannot be ignored. The United States’ unipolar moment is long over, and China’s hegemonic ambitions find expression in a comprehensive global competition with the US that plays out across multiple spheres of world politics. The US-China rivalry can be felt in geostrategic, economic, governance, diplomacy, intelligence, and technological spheres, to name a few. Most accounts of China-US relations in the context of great power conflict emphasize the many ways in which this rivalry has a ripple effect across the globe, with an impact upon the relations and interests of smaller powers. And while these effects are considerable and important, this book contends that attention must also be paid to the ways in which smaller, regional states have the potential to shape this great power rivalry. Put simply, great powers both shape, and are shaped by, smaller states. Any understanding of contemporary great power relations between the US and China requires both a top down, but also a bottom up consideration of the interplay between great powers and regional ones. Often the interests of regional powers are rooted in domestic considerations such as their identities and national interests, and these influences transcend borders and often have an impact upon the great powers. This book considers these smaller, regional actors and attempts to measure the extent to which they influence the US-China rivalry. For this study, constructivist theory, which prioritizes the agency that regional powers enjoy, is loosely used as a tool to enable a more robust and comprehensive understanding of the influences on the contemporary great power relationship. Each of the book’s chapters represents a region, or part of a region, that enjoys a considerable impact upon US-China relations. 

Editors and Affiliations

  • Department of Economics, Justice, and Policy Studies, Mount Royal University, Calgary, Canada

    Kari Roberts

  • Department of Philosophy, History, and Politics, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, Canada

    Saira Bano

About the editors

Kari Roberts is Associate Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Department of Economics, Justice, and Policy Studies at Mount Royal University (MRU). She is also a Coordinator of the North American and Arctic Defence and Security Network (NAADSN).

Saira Bano is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy, History, and Politics at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in Kamloops, British Columbia. Her research focuses on the nuclear non-proliferation regime, nuclear weapons issues in South Asia and IR theories.

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