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Bringing Realism Back In: Explaining China's Strategic Behavior in the Asia-Pacific

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This article argues that offensive realism is applicable to explain China's strategic behavior. Contrary to constructivist and liberal arguments, ideational and domestic factors are not the primary causes of China's strategic behavior. Instead, structural and material factors such as anarchy and the distribution of relative power significantly shape how China behaves in the Asia-Pacific. Furthermore, they have a larger impact relative to non-material/unit-level variables on China's policymaking. Available evidence strongly indicates that China's strategic behavior is driven by power maximizing calculation. China's grand strategy, its maritime ambition as well as naval modernization, and rapid growth rate of military expenditure all confirm the hypotheses of offensive realism.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2011

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