93334 - Security Policies In East Asia

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Docente: Antonio Fiori
  • Credits: 8
  • SSD: SPS/14
  • Language: Italian
  • Moduli: Antonio Fiori (Modulo 1) Marco Milani (Modulo 2)
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures (Modulo 1) Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)
  • Campus: Forli
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in International Relations and Diplomatic Affairs (cod. 9247)

Learning outcomes

The course aims at providing an overview of security policies, both conventional and non-conventional, of Asia's most relevant countries. At the end of the course students will be able to: - describe the main problems in the security realm of the Asian continent; - identify the main challenges and threats and the choices these have modeled in political terms in the region; - understand the differences between "conventional security" and "non-conventional security".

Course contents


East Asia represents one of the most important and dynamic regions in the world in terms of population, natural resources, economic and investment opportunities. Despite the exceptional economic performances, there are still significant security issues in this region that can be a source of instability and tension. From the point of view of traditional security, there are still many open issues such as: the division of the Korean peninsula, the complicated relations between Taipei and Beijing, the territorial disputes that involve in various capacities Japan, South Korea and China, the South China Sea issue and relations between China and several emerging Southeast Asian countries, without mentioning the role played by the United States in the regional security policies.

These concerns related to more traditional aspects of security, such as military and economic issues, have been accompanied in the region by new challenges linked to globalization, ecological sustainability, human and health security. Many of these new challenges, which are defined as non-traditional security, are characterized by their transnational character and by the fact that they often require a response that goes beyond the traditional borders represented by States and their sovereignty.

The goal of the course is to provide students with the instruments to understand the security dynamics in East Asia, through the analysis of the main issues and problems that characterize the region. The course is based on a concept of security defined in a broad and inclusive way, that encompasses not only military security – which represents a crucial element – but also other aspects of the so-called non-traditional security, such as: economic, political, social, cultural, environmental, energy, human and health security. The course focuses mainly on the East Asian region, including both Northeast and Southeast Asia and emphasizing the interconnections and the transnational character of the different security issues; in addition, it includes the analysis of the role of other crucial actors in the context of Indo-Pacific security, such as India and the United States.

In order to provide students with all the necessary tools to analyse these issues in a complete and thorough way, the first part of the course will be dedicated to the study of the main concepts and definitions that allow to understand and interpret the main security issues in East Asia and the policies put in place to address them. The second part will focus on the main traditional security issues East Asian countries face, such as: the rise of China, its role in the regional security system and the rivalry with the United States, maritime security and territorial disputes in East Asia, the North Korean nuclear program, the evolution of Japan’s security policies, the growing role of India in the region, the institutional architecture and the main security challenges of Southeast Asian countries. Lastly, the third part of the course will analyse non-traditional security challenges affecting the region, such as: energy security, environmental security and global warming, human rights and human security, cyber security, health security, terrorism, identity and societal security.


Readings and teaching materials will be provided by the lecturer during the course. All students will have to study the following textbook:

  • William T. Tow (ed.). Security Politics in the Asia Pacific: A Regional-Global Nexus? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Reading the following texts is highly recommended although not compulsory:

  • Barry Buzan and Ole Waever, Regions and Power: The Structure of International Security. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp. 3-182.
  • Mely Caballero-Anthony and Alistair D.B. Cook (eds.), Non-Traditional Security in Asia: Issues, Challenges and Framework for Action. Singapore: ISEAS Publishing, 2013.

For an overview of the historical and political development of contemporary East Asia the reading of the following book is recommended:

  • Antonio Fiori, Marco Milani, Andrea Passeri. Asia: Storia, istituzioni e relazioni internazionali. Firenze: Le Monnier, 2022.

Teaching methods

The course will consist of a combination of lectures and class discussions related to the different readings. Students will be given the texts that must be read and analyzed, in order to be discussed in class.

Assessment methods

Presentation and class discussions of the materials assigned by the lecturer; written document in the form of policy paper or memo policy (details and specific guidelines for the written document will be provided during the lessons); oral examination at the end of the course.

Teaching tools

Slides and short films (which will be discussed).

Office hours

See the website of Antonio Fiori

See the website of Marco Milani


Quality education

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.