State transformation and the rise of China

Lead Researchers: Lee Jones (QMUL), Shahar Hameiri (University of Queensland) and Shaun Breslin (University of Warwick)

International Relations (IR) scholars are hotly debating rising powers’ effects on world politics. Often ignored is evidence that state transformation processes – fragmentation, decentralisation and internationalisation – related to deepening economic and security interdependence, influence rising powers’ international behaviour. Central to IR debates is China, the most important rising power and often assumed to be a unitary and coherent ‘Westphalian’ state. This project examines state transformation’s implications for its relations with Southeast Asia. The aim is to develop a new approach for analysing the dimensions and effects of contemporary rising powers, to advance IR theory and provide better policy tools for engaging rising powers.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Southeast Asian Responses

Lead Researchers: Lee Jones (QMUL) and Cheng-Chwee Kuik (National University of Malaysia)

This project examines China’s rise and Southeast Asian states’ response to it, focusing on China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI). China’s rise is increasingly contradictory: it combines growing pseudo-military assertiveness in arenas like the South China Sea with diplomatic and economic charm offensives like the launch of the BRI and the associated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Our project seeks to explain both this contradictory approach and how Southeast Asian governments respond to it. We hypothesise that both are driven by regimes’ concerns for internal stability and legitimacy. The project is significant for two reasons. In terms of theory, it challenges the structural realist proposition that overemphasizes power-balancing as the drivers of state behaviour. In terms of policy, explaining how regional states are responding to China is crucial for understanding the direction of regional order in the “Asian century”.

For more information on that, check the research project website

Moral agency and meaningful human control: Exploring military ethical values for alignment in the use of autonomous weapons systems

Moral agency and meaningful human control: Exploring military ethical values for alignment in the use of autonomous weapons systems
Lead Researcher: Dr Elke Schwarz
Funding Agency: Leverhulme/British Academy
Advances in autonomous technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will shape civic and military futures in significant ways. Despite this, a focus on promoting innovation in these areas means that ethical aspects often take a backseat. There is broad consensus in current debates that ethical issues must be addressed in the development of robotic AI systems, but it is less clear what kinds of ethical values (as distinct from legal requirements) should factor into this enterprise. This is particularly crucial for the use of robotic AI systems in military operations, where human-machine teams will shape significant aspects of decision-making and operational conduct in future defence operations. This project examines how technologically advanced militaries view moral agency and ethical values vis-a-vis new autonomous and intelligent technologies. It seeks to:
(1) provide a clarification of ethical values and moral agency in military operations, and
(2) open an interdisciplinary dialogue on the topic to help shape policy and industry guidelines.

Professor Debbie Lisle visits QM

Professor Debbie Lisle (Queen’s University Belfast) – editor of International Political Sociology Journal- visits GPU’s International Political Sociology Seminar Series as keynote guest on 29 November 2018.

Professor Lisle will give a public lecture on: ‘what does it mean to do IPS and what differences in approaches, methods, topics make IPS an intellectually interesting site of debate?’


Registration and event details available on GPU events page