15 September 2012

Ashley Tellis: “Uphill Challenges: China’s Military Modernization and Asian Security”

Ashley J. Tellis, Uphill Challenges: China’s Military Modernization and Asian Security,” in Ashley J. Tellis and Travis Tanner, eds., Strategic Asia 2012-13: China’s Military Challenge (Seattle, WA: National Bureau of Asian Research, 2012), 2-24.


This chapter provides an overview of the dramatic shifts in the Asian balance of power as a result of China’s military modernization over the last two decades and assesses the U.S. response.

Main Argument

The military advantages that previously allowed the U.S. to deny its great-power rivals hegemony over Asia also enabled Washington to dampen regional security competition and create a liberal economic order. This order was grounded in U.S. military superiority, economic power, and willingness to bear the costs of global leadership, as well as the inability of any Asian power to prevent the U.S. from operating along the Asian littorals in defense of its allies. China’s current military modernization, however, challenges the U.S. military’s ability to operate in proximity to the Asian land mass, thereby threatening the larger structure of regional stability built on American hegemony.

Policy Implications

  • If unarrested, the erosion of U.S. preeminence portends the rise of new hegemonies that will come to dominate Asia in time, creating a far more pernicious strategic environment.
  • The increased geopolitical competition resulting from decaying U.S. hegemony will undermine regional and global economic growth.
  • The U.S. needs rational policies to protect its primacy that include preserving its critical military advantages during the current budgetary crisis and rebuilding its financial and economic foundations. …


The Strategic Asia annual edited volume incorporates assessments of economic, political, and military trends and focuses on the strategies that drive policy in the region.

Learn more about the Strategic Asia Program.

In Strategic Asia 2012-13: China’s Military Challengeleading experts assess and forecast the impact of China’s growing military capabilities. What are China’s strategic aims? What are the challenges and opportunities facing the United States? How is the region responding to China’s military power and to the U.S. policy of “strategic rebalancing”?

Electronic version available on September 25, 2012

Paperback Release: October 3, 2012

Paperback edition now available for pre-order

ISBN: 978-0-9818904-3-2
Paperback: $34.95

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Table of Contents

Uphill Challenges: China’s Military Modernization and Asian Security
Ashley J. Tellis

China’s Land Forces: New Priorities and Capabilities 
Roy D. Kamphausen

China’s Modernization of Its Naval and Air Power Capabilities
Andrew S. Erickson

The Second Artillery Force and the Future of Long-Range Precision Strike
Mark A. Stokes

Controlling the Information Domain: Space, Cyber, and Electronic Warfare
Kevin Pollpeter

China’s Military Modernization: U.S. Allies and Partners in Northeast Asia
Christopher W. Hughes

Southeast Asia and Australia: Case Studies in Responding to China’s Military Power
Andrew Shearer

China’s Military Modernization: Responses from India
Arun Sahgal

The U.S. Response to China’s Military Modernization
Dan Blumenthal

China’s Vision of World Order
Thomas Fingar

Strategic Asia by the Numbers 2012-13


Strategic Asia 2012-13 Book Launch Event

Oct. 3 – NBR will launch Strategic Asia 2012-13: China’s Military Challenge in Washington, D.C., at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The event will feature a keynote address by Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter and presentations by Dan BlumenthalAndrew S. EricksonRoy KamphausenKevin Pollpeter,Mark A. Stokes, and Ashley J. TellisRead more

For media inquiries, please contact Sonia Luthra, Assistant Director of Outreach at (202) 347-9767 or media@nbr.org

Pre-Order Now: Strategic Asia 2012-13