A Multi-Factor Model of China's Security Strategy in East Asia

Project: Other

Description

Over the last thirty years, China’s security strategy in East Asia has been the subject of almost countless publications. Multiple explanatory framework have emerged that emphasize the role played by the successive leaders (contrasting for instance Hu Jintao with Xi Jinping’s visions of world affairs), by domestic factors such as nationalism (as a constraint on foreign policy decision or as a signalling tool for decision makers) or by structural factors (China’s relative power and the nature of the threat environment in the East Asian region). To date, these different explanatory frameworks have coexisted in a state of tension, as the proponents of one single-factor explanation could point out at cases confirming their hypotheses while at the same time emphasizing the limitations of the other frameworks. While it has become increasingly clear that single-factor explanations are unlikely to provide us with a deep understanding of the evolution of China’s security strategy in its near neighbourhood, only very limited efforts have been devoted to conduct a systematic comparison of the hypotheses and performances of the different explanatory frameworks and to develop a rigorous multi-factor theoretical approach of China’s security strategy in East Asia since the end of the Cold War.
This project will address this question and will bring together a team of Australia- and Taiwan-based scholars to develop a powerful explanatory model to account for variations in China’s security strategy in East Asia over the last three decades. The project follows a two-step approach. The first step identifies and tests seven major explanatory frameworks (leader preferences, elite cohesion, nationalism, economic interdependence, regional institutions, threat environment, power distribution). These seven frameworks typically link one independent variable to a position or to a shift of China’s security strategy along the cooperation-confrontation axis. The hypotheses produced by these frameworks will then be tested against the actual evolution of China’s security strategy in the South China Sea, the East China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. This step will allow the research team to separate plausible explanatory frameworks from implausible ones. The second step will hierarchize and combine the remaining plausible explanations in a number of more complex models. These models will be tested against the actual evolution of China’s security strategy in its near neighbourhood. This step will allow us to identify one coherent theoretical model that accounts for variations in China’s security strategy in East Asia since the end of the Cold War.
The project will lead to the publication of three research articles published in leading journals in the field of Chinese studies and security studies, as well as the publication of a book with a leading academic press. The diffusion of the results of this research project will be assured by the publication shorter pieces for think tanks and a number of lectures at leading academic institutions in Taiwan and Australia.
StatusActive
Effective start/end date31/07/1930/07/21