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PKU Ocean Seminar Series

【?ystein Tunsj?】The Return of Bipolarity in World Politics

2018-05-23 09:24:39

Speaker: Professor ?ystein Tunsj?

Host: Research Profesor, Hu Bo

Time: May 23, 2018, 18:30 p.m.-20:00 p.m.

Location: Room 202, Teaching Building No. 2

Sponsors: Peking University Institute of Ocean Research


Professor ?ystein Tunsj?


Professor Tunsj? will show why the international system has entered a new US-China bipolar system that differs from the previous US-USSR Cold War bipolar system.

Professor Tunsj? will in this talk first explain why the international system has become bipolar. He will focus on three arguments:

(1)The narrowing power gap between the US and China

(2)The widening power gap between China and # 3 ranking power, such as Russia, India, Japan, and Germany

(3)The roughly similar distribution of capabilities between the contemporary international system and the origins of the previous bipolar system between the US and USSR in 1950

The second part of the talk will examine why a return to bipolarity in international politics matter. By focusing on polarity, Tunsj? seeks to explain and predict two important matters in international politics:

(1)Rivalry and balancing among the two superpowers

(2)Stability and the risk of war between the United States and China

Historically, great powers or superpower(s) pattern of behavior have differed between multipolar, bipolar and unipolar systems. Thus, it matters whether the US and China will be peer competitors in a new bipolar system.

Professor Tunsj? reconfigures one of the best known theory in international politics, Kenneth Waltz's structural realism, and develops a new geostructural realist theory. Neither Waltz nor anyone else have compared two bipolar systems. Thus, Waltz's structural realism cannot explain why US-China rivalry/balancing differs from US-Soviet rivalry/balancing or predict whether there is a higher risk of war between the two superpowers in the twentieth compared to the twenty-first century.


?ystein Tunsj? is Professor at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies, Norwegian Defence University College. Tunsj? holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, 2006, a Cand Philol in History form the University of Oslo, 2003, an MSc from the London School of Economics, 2002 and a MA from Griffith University, Australia, 2000. Tunsj? was a visiting Fulbright scholar at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University, during spring term of 2010.

Tunsj?'s recent book is The Return of Bipolarity in World Politics: China, the United States and Geostructural Realism, Columbia University Press, 2018. He is author of Security and Profits in China’s Energy Policy: Hedging Against Risk (Columbia University Press, 2013) and US Taiwan Policy: Constructing the Triangle (London: Routledge, 2008). Tunsj? is co-editor with Robert S. Ross of Strategic adjustment and the Rise of China: Power and Politics in East Asia (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2017); co-editor with Robert S. Ross and Peter Dutton of Twenty First Century Seapower: Cooperation and Conflict at Sea (London: Routledge, 2012, translated to Chinese, 21 Shiji Haiyang Daguo: Haishang Hezuo yu Zhongtu Guanli, by Shehui Kexue Wenxian Zhubanshe, Beijing, 2014) and co-editor with Robert Ross and Zhang Tuosheng of US-China-EU Relations: Managing a New World Order (London: Routledge, 2010, translated to Chinese, Zhong Mei Ou Guanxi: Goujian Xin de Shijie Zhixu by the World Affairs Press, Beijing, 2012). Tunsj? has published articles in journals such as Survival, International Relations, Cooperation and Conflict and World Economy and Politics (in Chinese) and contributed with book chapters to several edited volumes.


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