chapter  3
The limitations of deterrence
China’s response to military balancing in the Western Pacific
WithJonathan Holslag
Pages 14

This chapter shows that bolder balancing has prompted China to pay more attention to reassurance and that smart deterrence is bringing Asia closer to lasting stability or peace. Deterrence, so it is seen, has become a matter of demonstrating military resolve when it must and signalling prudence whenever it can. Effective mutual deterrence makes violence irrelevant. The power plays between China and the other pretenders in the Asian Mediterranean constitute, thus, a test case for assessing whether the more ingenious variants of deterrence can indeed prevent military tensions from turning violent. Deft deterrence, the combination of deterrence and reassurance, could be seen as the logical result of the strategic ambivalence and diverging aspiration of Asian political elites. Balancing and counterbalancing in the Western Pacific will inevitably persist, and so states will continue to strengthen their deterrence. The waters of the Western Pacific are becoming rocky.