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Thesis Defence: Middle Powers in New Arenas: Understanding Canada’s Arctic Policy

August 29, 2023 at 9:30 am - 12:30 pm

Mohammad Morad Hossain Khan, supervised by Dr. Manfred Elfstrom, will defend their thesis titled “Middle Powers in New Arenas: Understanding Canada’s Arctic Policy” in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies.

An abstract for Mohammad Morad Hossain Khan’s thesis is included below.

Defences are open to all members of the campus community as well as the general public. Please email manfred.elfstrom@ubc.ca to receive the Zoom link for this defence.


Do middle powers side with status quo powers or rising powers/revisionist powers in new arenas of international cooperation and conflict? This research focuses on a case study of how Canada as a middle power manages its Arctic policy between the United States (US), the established superpower, and China, the rising and revisionist superpower, in its Arctic governance. Relatively little attention is given to the general question of how a middle power in the international system behaves in a new context. Does Canada feels threatened by China in its Arctic policy? Or does Canada want to be neutral between the US and China in its Arctic policy so that Canada does not need to take a side? Or might Canada actually feel threatened by the US in the current era? In order to determine which of the hypotheses is the true situation, primary data through semi-structured interviews of Canadian elite policymakers have been collected. This research finds evidence for the argument that Canada feels threatened by China’s Arctic policy and activities because China’s behaviour, investments, increasing influence, and its Russia connection in the Arctic go against the national interests of Canada. Canada generally seeks to follow a rules-based international system under the US. This means that Canada is a strong supporter of the current international order in which Canada feels secure and from which it derives benefits. Other middle or small powers as well as Arctic states such as Denmark and Sweden, also play similar roles. Therefore, this research finds evidence that middle powers generally tend to balance against a rising superpower because China seeks to revise the existing world order, which goes against middle and other powers such as Canada, Denmark, and Sweden. Therefore, they side with the US for security reasons in this age of the New Cold War. The Canadian case and the other two examples demonstrate that middle powers, due to their interests and security, generally tend to balance against a rising superpower in the international system.


August 29, 2023
9:30 am - 12:30 pm

Additional Info

Registration/RSVP Required
Yes (see event description)
Event Type
Thesis Defence
Arts and Humanities, Global, Research and Innovation
Alumni, Community, Faculty, Staff, Families, Partners and Industry, Students, Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Associates