A trend analysis: rising threshold for China to use force in territorial disputes in South and East China Seas
Miller, Alice L.
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This thesis analyzes the political, economic, energy and military determinants of Chinas use of force policy in South and East China Seas in the post-Cold War era. Considering Chinas international behavior throughout the Cold War years, three possible explanations are formulated at the beginning of the study. The first one posits that China has not changed its realist international attitude after the Cold War and its conciliatory behaviors are only exceptional for other reasons. The second postulates that China has displayed behavior different from its earlier approaches to the regional disputes since 1990s. The third suggests that China has not behaved consistently and it is not possible to determine any single pattern. Since the end of the Cold War, deepening political and economic integration and increasing investment in alternative energy resources discouraged Chinese decision-makers from resorting to the military forces at first place to settle the disputes and forced Beijing to adopt more cooperative strategies. However, regarding the regional militarization, it is difficult to determine the effects of military balance on the Chinese international crisis behaviors. After evaluating the determinants and Chinas dispute behavior together last two decades, this thesis concludes that the threshold of the Chinese use of force in South and East China Seas has elevated and Beijing has not behaved so belligerently since 1990s as it did during the Cold War years.
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