Robert S. Ross

Center Associate; Professor of Political Science, Boston College


Robert S. Ross (陆伯彬) is Professor of Political Science at Boston College. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University in 1984. He has taught at Columbia University and at the University of Washington and in 1989 was a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. In 1994-1995 he was Fulbright Professor at the Chinese Foreign Affairs College, in 2003 he was a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute of International Strategic Studies, Tsinghua University, Beijing, and in 2014 was Visiting Scholar, School of International Relations, Peking University. In 2009 he was Visiting Scholar, Institute for Strategy, Royal Danish Defence College. From 2009-2014 he has been Adjunct Professor, Institute for Defence Studies, Norwegian Defence University College.

Professor Ross’s research focuses on Chinese security policy and defense policy, East Asian security, and U.S.-China relations. His recent publications include Chinese Security Policy: Structure, Power, and Politics, China’s Ascent: Power, Security, and the Future of International Politics, and New Directions in the Study of Chinese Foreign Policy. His other major works include Normalization of U.S.-China Relations: An International History; Great Wall and Empty Fortress: China’s Search for Security, Negotiating Cooperation: U.S.-China Relations, 1969-1989, and The Indochina Tangle: China’s Vietnam Policy, 1975-1979. Professor Ross is the author of numerous articles in World Politics, The China Quarterly, International Security, Security Studies, Orbis, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The National Interest, and Asian Survey. His books and articles have been translated in China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and various European countries.

Professor Ross has been the recipient of research fellowships from the University of Washington and Columbia University. He has received research and collaborative project grants from the Social Science Research Council, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Ford Foundation, the Smith-Richardson Foundation, the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), The Asia Foundation, and The United States Institute of Peace.

Professor Ross has testified before various Senate and House committees and the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee, he advises U.S. government agencies, and he serves on the Academic Advisory Group, U.S.-China Working Group, United States Congress. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Committee for U.S.-China Relations. Professor Ross is also a Senior Advisor of the Security Studies Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Senior Advisor to the Institute for American Studies, Shanghai. He is a founding member and former board member of the United States Committee of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific (USCSCAP) and former co-chair of the Committee’s task force on Confidence Strategic Building Measures. He is on the editorial board of Security Studies, Journal of Contemporary China, Journal of Cold War Studies, Issues and Studies, Asia Policy, Journal of Chinese Political Science, the Security Studies book series of Shanghai People’s Press, and the “Grand Strategy” book series of Peking University Press.

Research interests: U.S.-China relations; Chinese foreign policy; Chinese negotiation behavior; Chinese security and defense policies; Chinese nationalism

Selected Publications

Books and Monographs

  • US-China Foreign Relations: Power Transition and its Implications for Europe and Asia, coedited with Øystein Tunsjø and Wang Dong (London: Routledge, 2021).
  • Strategic Adjustment and the Rise of China: Power and Politics in East Asia, co-edited with Øystein Tunsjø (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2017).
  • China in the Era of Xi Jinping: Domestic and Foreign Policy Challenges, co-edited with Jo Inge Bekkevold (Washington, D.C.:, Georgetown University Press, 2016).
  • Twenty-First Century Seapower: Cooperation and Conflict at Sea, co-edited with Peter Dutton and Øystein Tunsjø (London: Routledge, 2012).
  • US-China-EU Relations, Managing the New World Order, co-edited with Øystein Tunsjø and Zhang Tuosheng (London: Routledge, 2010).
  • Chinese Security Policy: Structure, Power, and Politics (New York: Routledge, 2009).
  • China’s Ascent: Power, Security, and the Future of International Politics, co-editor, with Zhu Feng (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008).
  • New Directions in the Study of Chinese Foreign Policy, co-editor, with Alastair Iain Johnston (Palo Alto, Ca: Stanford University Press, 2006).
  • Normalization of U.S.-China Relations: An International History, co-editor, with William C. Kirby and Gong Li (Cambridge, MA: Asia Center, Harvard University, 2005).
  • Great Wall and Empty Fortress: China’s Search for Security, with Andrew J. Nathan (New York: W.W. Norton Publishers, 1997).
  • Negotiating Cooperation: The United States and China, 1969-1989 (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995).
  • The Indochina Tangle: China’s Vietnam Policy, 1975-1979 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988).
  • Re-Examining the Cold War: U.S.-China Diplomacy, 1954-1973 , co-editor with Jiang Changbin (Cambridge, MA; Asia Center, Harvard University, 2001).
  • Engaging China: Management of an Emerging Power, co-editor and contributor (London: Routledge, 1999).
  • After The Cold War: Domestic Factors in U.S.-China Relations, editor and contributor (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1998).
  • East Asia in Transition: Toward a New Regional Order, editor and contributor (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1995).
  • China, the United States and the Soviet Union: Tripolarity and Policy Making in the Cold War, editor and contributor (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1993).

Recent Articles and Chapters

  • “Zhongguo Junshi Xiandaihua ji dui Meiguo Anquan ji Dongya Anquan Zhixu de Yingxiang” (Chinese military modernization and its influence on U.S. security and the East Asian security order), Kongtian Liliang Zazhi (Air and space power journal) , vol. 6, no. 2 (summer 2012).
  • “Chinese Nationalism and the American Response: Sources of Tension and Prospects for Renewed Cooperation,” in Gilbert Rozman, ed., China’s Foreign Policy: Who Makes It, and How Is It Made? (Seoul: Asan Institute, 2012).
  • “The Problem with the Pivot: Obama’s New Asia Policy Is Unnecessary and Counterproductive,” Foreign Affairs, vol. 91, no. 6 (November/December 2012). 
  • “China’s Military Modernization and East Asian Security,” in Bjørn Terejesen and Øystein Tunsjø, eds., The Rise of Naval Powers in Asia and Europe’s Decline (Oslo: Institute for Defence Studies, 2012).
  • “U.S. Grand Strategy, The Rise of China and U.S. National Security Strategy for East Asia,” Strategic Studies Quarterly, vol. 7, no. 2 (Summer 2013).
  • “The U.S. Pivot to Asia and Implications for Australia,’ in Centre of Gravity, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University, April 2013. 
  • “What the Pivot Means for Transatlantic Relations: Separate Course or New Opportunity for Engagement?,” in Transatlantic Security Cooperation in Asia After the U.S. Pivot, German Marshall Fund of the United States, June 2013.
  • “The Domestic Sources of China’s ‘Assertive Diplomacy,’ 2009-2010; Nationalism and Chinese Foreign Policy,” in Rosemary Foot, ed., China Across the Divide (Oxford University Press, 2013).
  • “The Pivot in Perspective,” Insight, Journal of the American Chamber of Commerce, Shanghai, November 2013
  • “The Fate of The Pivot: U.S. Policy in East Asia,” Policy Brief, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore (March 2014).
  • “Thinking About U.S.-China Relations,” Peace (Beijing), no. 111 (June 2014). 
  • “Dang Daguo Zouxiang Haiyang: Xiongxin de Daijia yu Minzu Zhuyi de Beiju” (When great powers go to sea: The price of ambition and the tragedy of nationalism), in 21 Shiji Haiyang Daguo: Haishang Hezuo yu Chongtu Guanli (Twenty-first century maritime powers: Cooperation and conflict management at sea) (Beijing: Social Sciences Literature Press, 2014.)
  • “The Revival of Geopolitics in East Asia: Why and How?,” Global Asia, vol. 9, no. 3 (fall 2014).
  • “American Public Diplomacy and U.S.-China Relations: 1949-2012,” in Geoffrey Wiseman, ed., Isolate or Engage: Adversarial States, US Foreign Policy, and Public Diplomacy (Redwood City: Stanford University Press, 2015).
  • “Xi Jinping and the Challenges to Chinese Security Policy,” with Mingjiang Li, in Robert S. Ross and Jo Inge Bekkevold, eds., China in the Era of Xi Jinping: Domestic and Foreign Policy Challenges (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2016).
  • “The Rise of the Chinese Navy: From Regional Naval Power to Global Naval Power?” in China’s Global Engagement: Cooperation, Competition, and Influence in the 21st Century, Jacques deLisle and Avery Goldstein, eds. (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2017). 
  • “The United States and China in Northeast Asia: Third-Party Coercion and Alliance Relations,” in Robert S. Ross and Øystein Tunsjø, eds., Strategic Adjustment and the Rise of China: Power and Politics in East Asia, (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2017).
  • “The Great Power Challenge to the East Asian Peace,” in Elin Bjarnegård and Joakim Kreutz, eds., Debating the East Asian Peace, (Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2017).
  • “What Does the Rise of China Mean for the United States?,” in Jennifer Rudolph and Michael Szonyi, eds., The China Questions: Critical Insights into a Rising Power (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2017).
  • “Troubled Waters,” The National Interest, no. 155 (May-June 2018). Published in China as “Zhongguo Haijun Jiasu Xiandaihua Donyao Mei zai Yazhou Zhudaoquan,” (The acceleration of Chinese naval modernization shakes U.S. dominance in East Asia), Reference News, April 18, 2018.
  • “Nationalism, Geopolitics and Naval Expansionism: From the Nineteenth Century to the Rise of China,” Naval War College Review, vol. 71, no. 4 (autumn 2018). 
  • “On The Fungibility of Economic Power: China’s Economic Rise and the East Asian Security Order,” European Journal of International Politics, vol. 25, no. 1 (2019). 
  • “Anliu Yongdong: Yingdui Zhongguo Jueqi de Zhi yu Luan” (Surging undercurrent: Dealing with governance and chaos in China’s rise), in Lengzhan Guoji Shi Yanjiu (Cold War international history studies), no. 27 (2019).
  • “Learning From Foreign Colleagues: Research In China,” in Peter Krause and Ora Szekely, eds. The Unorthodox Guide to Fieldwork (New York: Columbia University Press, 2020).
  • “Beyond Theoretical Determinism: Exploring The Complexity of Power Transitions” (review essay), Journal of East Asian Studies, vol. 20, no. 2 (2020). 
  • “It’s Not a Cold War: Competition and Cooperation in U.S.-China Relations,” China International Strategy Review, vol. 2, no. 1 (2020). 
  • “The Changing East Asian Balance of Power and the Regional Security Order,” in Robert S. Ross, Øystein Tunsjø, and Wang Dong, eds., US-China Foreign Relations: Power Transition and its Implications for Europe and Asia (New York: Routledge, 2020).
  • “Conclusion: The United States, China, and Europe in an Age of Uncertainty,” in Robert S. Ross, Øystein Tunsjø, and Wang Dong, eds., US-China Foreign Relations: Power Transition and its Implications for Europe and Asia Era (New York: Routledge, 2020).
  • “Sino-Russian Relations: The False Promise of Russian Balancing,” International Politics, vol. 57, no. 5 (2020).
  • “Sino-Vietnamese Relations in the Era of Rising China: Power vs. Resistance and the Sources of Instability,” Journal of Contemporary China (forthcoming, published on-line December 2020).
  • “From Hegemony To Bipolarity: The New East Asian Security Order, American Strategy, and the Prospects for War And Peace” (work in progress).
  • “Rising China between North and South Korea: The New Security Order on the Korean Peninsula” (work in progress).


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