Multilateralism in Great Power Politics: Building Order or Inviting Conflict?*

Shin Wha Lee, Jae Jeok Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Though the United States and China emphasize the significance of multilateral frameworks, they have not departed from power politics. As the confrontation between U.S.-led and Chinese-style multilateralism intensifies, the practice of multilateral cooperation based on openness and responsibility is losing ground. In this context, this paper compares U.S.-led multilateralism and Chinese-style multilateralism to examine U.S.–China rivalry in multilateral mechanisms. It then zooms in on the rivalry in the context of the Indo–Pacific region. U.S. President Biden’s key strategy in his China policy is represented by the catchphrase “cooperate, compete, confront,” dubbed the “3C framework,” reflecting the complexities of U.S.–China relations. While the two states tend to show a mix of competition and cooperation relative to global multilateral mechanisms, they exhibit a mix of competition and conflict in the Indo–Pacific. The paper analyzes recent United States and Chinese approaches towards topical multilateral issues: on climate change issues for the former and on cybersecurity and advanced technology for the latter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-409
Number of pages25
JournalKorean Journal of Defense Analysis
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Korea Institute for Defense Analyses.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations


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