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Title:The taming of the red dragon: The militarized worldview and China's use of force, 1949-2010
Author(s):Li, Xiaoting
Director of Research:Vasquez, John A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Vasquez, John A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Diehl, Paul F.; Leff, Carol S.; Dai, Xinyuan
Department / Program:Political Science
Discipline:Political Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):China's Rise
Chinese Foreign Policy
China's Use of Force
Abstract:This dissertation explores the impact of China’s integration into the international society upon its propensity to use force in interstate disputes. Drawing on various insights from international relations theory, I argue that China’s proverbial violence proneness—that is, its propensity to use force—was historically a product of its militarized or Hobbesian worldview, developed during Mao’s reign, when Beijing acted as a challenger against the international system. Due to this worldview, the challenger tends to overestimate the threats to its security, and places a premium on preparing for and engaging in violence against real or perceived enemies. Since Mao’s death, however, China has been increasingly integrated into the international system. As a result, Beijing has experienced a Lockean turn in its worldview, which now sees cooperation and compromise as the main themes of international relations. This ideational transformation reduces the erstwhile challenger’s dependence on force as an instrument of foreign policy, and softens its predilection for violence accordingly. Using both large-N statistical analysis and detailed case studies, I demonstrate that this evolution of China’s militarized worldview, rather than its increasing relative power, played the foremost role in driving Beijing’s resort to force between 1949 and 2010. Theoretically, this dissertation thus challenges the conventional wisdom of realist theory that sees states’ relative capabilities as the primary source of their security behaviors. Instead, it highlights the role of worldviews in shaping states’ perceptions of their security situation, defining their security interests, and regulating their security behaviors. The findings of this dissertation also attest powerfully to the importance of a strategy of constructive engagement with China.
Issue Date:2014-05-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Xiaoting Li
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-05-30
Date Deposited:2014-05

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