A dynamic strategic culture model and China's behaviour in the South China Sea

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Feng, Huiyun
He, Kai
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2019
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Abstract

This paper provides a new theoretical framework to explain China’s strategic behaviour along with its rise and in doing so engages with the debate on strategic culture between Colin Gray and Alastair Johnston. We suggest that China’s behaviour is shaped by two variables: realpolitik realist threat perceptions on the strategic level and Confucian moralist cultural norms on the ideational level. In the case of a high strategic threat, China’s behaviour will be heavily influenced by the realpolitik variable in Chinese culture and become offensive in nature. Under low strategic threat, China’s policy will follow the Confucian tradition and thereby emphasize the non-use of force and resort to defensive principles. When external threats change from high to low, Chinese behaviour will feature a combination of ‘realpolitik’ and ‘Confucianism’, that is, a self-constrained offensive policy. China’s foreign policy in the South China Sea after the Cold War is a case study that illustrates the utility of this new strategic culture framework.

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Cambridge Review of International Affairs
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FT160100355
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This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 34 (4), pp. 510-529, 22 Jul 2019, copyright Taylor & Francis, available online at: https://doi.org/10.1080/09557571.2019.1642301
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Policy and administration
Political science
Social Sciences
International Relations
Government & Law
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Feng, H; He, K, A dynamic strategic culture model and China's behaviour in the South China Sea, Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 2019
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