Chinese Assertive Foreign Policy: The ‘Power-Shift’ Theory and the South China Sea



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MASARYK UNIVERSITY

Faculty of Social Studies



Department of International Relations and European Studies

Ing. Mgr. Richard Turcsányi



Chinese Assertive Foreign Policy: The ‘Power-Shift’ Theory and the South China Sea

PhD Dissertation

Supervisor: doc. PhDr Zdeněk Kříž, Ph.D.

Brno 2016



Declaration

I hereby declare that this PhD dissertation is my own work, that it has been written on the basis of the sources listed here, and that all the used sources have been referred to and acknowledged in the text.

In Beijing, 5 May 2016 Richard Turcsányi

Acknowledgments


Great many people made my effort of doing PhD, and eventually submitting this text as a PhD thesis, possible. First of all, I would like to thank my supervisor prof. Zdeněk Kříž. From the first moment he has been essential support and the source of very pertinent questioning of my research directions. I appreciate very much both his academic supervision and his personal approach, which made every interaction with him a pleasant and enriching experience. Other members of the Department of International Relations and European Studies at Masaryk University supported me in various ways during the years of my studies there. The head of the department dr. Petr Suchý has made every effort in his capacity to help me with all academic and practical issues. Prof. Vít Hloušek supported some of my research stays and I am also thankful for his always welcoming personal approach. I have been lucky to cooperate with dr. Hedvika Koďousková and her friendly advices and presence at the department made my experience there very enjoyable. Number of other people at the department helped me in various academic or non-academic ways and I feel indebted to them, including dr. Pavel Pšeja and dr. Petr Vilímek, who gave me the opportunity to teach in their courses which I appreciate very much. Prof. Bradley Thayer was extremely kind to discuss with me in a pleasant informal setting during his visiting stay in Brno. I would also like to thank specifically Martin Glogar from the Office of International Cooperation for his support in anything I was about to do.

I have been lucky to have the opportunity to interact personally with a number of superb experts of international relations in my research stays and conference appearances in various parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. From among people who contributed in considerable ways to the process or final form of the thesis, I would like to specifically thank prof. Zhang Qingmin of Peking University, prof. Xie Tao from Beijing Foreign Studies University, prof. Yeh Chung-lu and prof. Yuan I of National Chengchi University in Taipei, prof. Yuan Jingdong of University of Sidney, prof. Go Ito from Meiji University in Tokyo, prof. Shuhei Takemoto of Akita International University, prof. Victor Falkenheim, prof. John Kirton, prof. Louis Pauly, prof. Seva Gunitsky, and prof. Robert Austin all from University of Toronto. I would like to express my deep gratitude to prof. Stephen Clarkson of University of Toronto for his extreme kindness he showed to me during my time in Toronto. I learnt with deep sadness about his recent passing away.

From among my Central European China and Asia-watcher colleagues I would like to thank prof. Dominik Mierzejewski of University of Lodz, dr. Tamás Matura of ESSCA in Budapest, dr. Rudolf Furst of Institute of International Relations in Prague, dr. Maria Strašáková and dr. Petra Andělová both from Metropolitan University Prague, Václav Kopecký from AMO, dr. Gabriela Pleschová and prof. Martin Slobodník both from Comenius University. I have learnt a great deal from all of these people about their perspectives of China, Asia, and the study of international relations in general. Many of ideas have been stimulated by the discussion with these people and many others, even though some of them might not be aware of that.

I would like to thank my colleagues at the Institute of Asian Studies/CENAA for their active cooperation in everything we have been through, in particular the dr. Lucia Husenicová, dr. Róbert Ondrejcsák, former colleague dr. Marian Majer, and Šimon Drugda and Filip Šebok. I would also like to thank my colleagues in the Brussels’ European Institute for Asian Studies, namely Jim Stoopman, Alberto Turkstra, David Fouquet, Lin Goethals, and Axel Goethals.

On the personal level I have been fortunate to have friends in various parts of the world. Many of them hosted me during my unexpected trips or were great relief to be always at home ready to meet. This applies mainly to Michal Dančišin and Cristina Corecha, Tomáš Rosival, Lenka and Tomáš Abelovskí, Michal and Klára Rovinskí, Sandra Teng, but many others as well.

I have always had a stable support from my wife, which has also contributed significant amount of academic and empirical observations to the research. Every step I have made since I met her seems meaningful and joyful.

Eventually, all the best effort of this large number of respectable individuals notwithstanding, the text undoubtedly contains some faults, which are my own.

Dedicated to my grandparents

Conten


MASARYK UNIVERSITY 1

Faculty of Social Studies 1

Department of International Relations and European Studies 1

PhD Dissertation 1

Supervisor: doc. PhDr Zdeněk Kříž, Ph.D. 1

Brno 2016 1

Acknowledgments 3

List of tables 10

List of annexes 12

List of abbreviations 13

Note on transcription of Asian names 15

Introduction 16

1.Literature review: Chinese assertiveness 24

2.Power in international relations and power of China 37

2.1 China’s power: theoretical and practical issues 37

2.2 Searching for the Holy Grail? The model of power for analytical use in international relations 40

2.2.1 Defining and conceptualizing power 40

2.2.2 Sources of power in international relations 47

2.3 Critical reading of the literature on China’s power 49

3.Methodological considerations of the research 57

3.1 Meta-theoretical bases 57

3.2 Conceptualization of Chinese assertiveness 64

3.3 Elaboration on the main hypothesis testing 66

3.4 Elaboration on the alternative hypotheses testing 69

4.South China Sea: Background of the dispute and policies of assertive China 71

4.1 Geopolitics, geo-economics, law, and history of the South China Sea dispute 71

4.1.1 Geopolitics and geo-economics 71

4.1.2 Legal situation 75

4.1.3 History of the dispute 78

4.2 Chinese assertive policies in the South China Sea 81

4.2.1 Pre-2011 period 81

4.2.2 Period of 2011-2016 89

5.China’s sources of power 105

5.1 State level: Military 105

5.2 State level: Economy 125

5.3 State level: National performance 134

5.4 Structural level: Institutional setting 139

5.5 Structural level: Geopolitics 145

5.6 Structural level: Geo-economics 158

5.7 Societal level: Soft power 166

5.8 Societal level: Legitimacy 174

5.9 China’s sources of power and assertive behaviour in the SCS 178

6.Discussion: Alternative hypotheses 182

6.1 Changed perception of power 182

6.1.1 Literature on Chinese perception of the distribution of power 182

6.1.2 Primary data on Chinese perception of distribution of power 184

6.2 Influence of other actors’ actions 187

6.2.3 Indirect trigger: the U.S. pivot to Asia 187

6.2.2 Direct triggers: Actions of other claimants 191

6.3 Influence of domestic politics in China 193

6.3.1 Indicator: Fragmentation and loss of control of the top leadership 194

6.3.2 Indicator: Domestic problems and public discontent 199

6.3.3 Indicator: Growing nationalism 202

Conclusion 208

Summary of the findings 208

Research takeaways 213

Bibliography 220

Annexes 253



List of tables 8

List of annexes 9

List of abbreviations 10

Note on transcription of Asian names 12

Introduction 13

1. Literature review: Chinese assertiveness 19

2. Power in international relations and power of China 29

2.1 China’s power: theoretical and practical issues 29

2.2 Searching for the Holy Grail? The model of power for analytical use in international relations 31

2.2.1 Defining and conceptualizing power 31

2.2.2 Sources of power in international relations 36

2.3 Critical reading of the literature on China’s power 38

3. Methodological considerations of the research 44

3.1 Meta-theoretical bases 44

3.2 Conceptualization of Chinese assertiveness 49

3.3 Elaboration on the main hypothesis testing 50

3.4 Elaboration on the alternative hypotheses testing 53

4. South China Sea: Background of the dispute and policies of assertive China 55

4.1 Geopolitics, geo-economics, law, and history of the South China Sea dispute 55

4.1.1 Geopolitics and geo-economics 55

4.1.2 Legal situation 58

4.1.3 History of the dispute 59

4.2 Chinese assertive policies in the South China Sea 62

4.2.1 Pre-2011 period 62

4.2.2 Period of 2011-2016 68

5. China’s sources of power 80

5.1 State level: Military 80

5.2 State level: Economy 96

5.3 State level: National performance 104

5.4 Structural level: Institutional setting 108

5.5 Structural level: Geopolitics 113

5.6 Structural level: Geo-economics 122

5.7 Societal level: Soft power 129

5.8 Societal level: Legitimacy 136

5.9 China’s sources of power and assertive behaviour in the SCS 140

6. Discussion: Alternative hypotheses 143

6.1 Changed perception of power 143

6.1.1 Literature on Chinese perception of the distribution of power 143

6.1.2 Primary data on Chinese perception of distribution of power 144

6.2 Influence of other actors’ actions 147

6.2.3 Indirect trigger: the U.S. pivot to Asia 147

6.2.2 Direct triggers: Actions of other claimants 150

6.3 Influence of domestic politics in China 152

6.3.1 Indicator: Fragmentation and loss of control of the top leadership 153

6.3.2 Indicator: Domestic problems and public discontent 156

6.3.3 Indicator: Growing nationalism 159

Conclusion 163

Summary of the findings 163

Research takeaways 168

Bibliography 173

Annexes 203



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