The effect of 21st century Asia-pacific regional change on China’s grand strategy
Chapter 1 Introduction
Introduce the research problem
In the first few decades of the 21st century, the Asia-Pacific region centred on China has become the growth engine of the world economy. Unlike the United States and Europe, no one in Asia is bothered by globalization (Morris, 2017). Asia is moving forward and has issued open invitations to other regions in developing countries. Asia benefits from globalization trends, such as the flow of foreign direct investment, the acquisition of knowledge and innovation, open markets for trade in goods and services, and rapid technological progress. Asia’s growth is also based on the current regional peace, security and stability provided by regional and multilateral cooperation (Morris, 2017).
China is one of the cores of the Asia-Pacific region. It has now become the world’s largest economy and the largest trading economy. In terms of the consumer market and the source of outbound tourists, China alone accounts for more than one-third of global growth. Due to their scale and initiative, they will build a trade, investment and tourism value chain along the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” (Morris, 2017). Therefore, China provides a unique opportunity for the Asia-Pacific region to connect to the global growth centre.
Compared with the rapid economic development in the Asia-Pacific region, it is still in the process of transitioning to a new post-Cold War order at the political level. On the one hand, Asia-Pacific countries are responding to the West’s perception of the new world order, which has created new regional tensions (Rumley, 2003). On the other hand, the security structure during the Cold War is still basically intact, and the post-Cold War Asia-Pacific regional arrangements have internal conflicts and are relatively weak. However, under the current global security landscape caused by the new internationalist agenda and the proliferation of nuclear weapons, Western countries need to fully recognize the interests of the Asia-Pacific region and more effectively accommodate these interests in the new regional and global economic and security structures (Rumley, 2003).
The traditional security threats to Western interests by Asia-Pacific countries include North Korea, a “rogue country”, as well as non-Western civilized countries such as China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, and Asia-Pacific countries that believe in Buddhism (Morris, 2017). In short, the populations of the vast majority of Asia-Pacific countries are viewed by Huntington as a security threat to Western interests (Rumley, 2003). Although this view is absurd from a practical policy point of view, it still helps the United States continue to maintain a military presence in the region. Some people believe that this kind of continuous regional existence, especially in Japan and South Korea, is necessary to safeguard the interests of the United States and save the region from its perspective because of its inherent conflict structure and its apparent reluctance or inability to resolve Intra-regional conflicts.
As China is the focus of the Asia-Pacific region, after entering the 21st century, Beijing’s every move affects the nerves of neighbouring countries, especially the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region have more or less impact. The threat of China’s rise is also prevalent in various Asia-Pacific countries. What impact will the changes in the Asia-Pacific region in this century have on China, especially the formulation of China’s grand strategy will be the main direction of this paper.
How to set up a research question
The paper consists of five chapters in total. The first chapter has five parts in total. The first part states what the research problem is about, the second part is how to design the whole paper, the third part is theoretical framework, which theory I will use as the research basis, and the fourth part is Methodology. Mainly based on case studies, studying the impact of exceptional cases in the Asia-Pacific region on China’s grand strategy. The last part states how the research data is collected. The second chapter mainly reviews China’s grand strategy since the founding of the People’s Republic of China to the time when Xi Jinping took power. The third part focuses on the China’s Grand Strategy: New Economic Order in South Asia. The fourth part is another protagonist in the Asia-Pacific region-the United States, to study its effects on China’s grand strategy. The last part is the conclusion to draw the specific impact of changes in the Asia-Pacific region on China’s grand strategy.
The theoretical framework in this article will be based on Mearsheimer’s Offensive Realism. The changes in the Asia-Pacific region are closely related to the formulation and adjustment of China’s grand strategy. Under the background of China’s grand strategy is the rise of China. There have been various responses to China’s rise in the Asia-Pacific region and even the world. For optimists, the rise of China makes the world see long-term peace, and it is even less likely to see conflict. Others take a more cautious approach and believe that future shelving is unpredictable. The rise of China may or may not lead to conflict. For pessimists, the rise of China is likely or will inevitably cause instability and conflict just as Thucydides believed that the Peloponnesian War was inevitable with the rise of Athens and the decline of the relative power of Sparta (Thucydides, 1996). History may repeat itself once again as the rise of China and the fall in the relative strength of the United States.
John Mearsheimer is one of the pessimists and one of the most famous sceptics of China’s “peaceful rise”. Behind his doubts about China’s peaceful rise is a clear Offensive Realism concept. Mearsheimer related theories in “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics “and his specific works on The Gathering Storm: China’s Challenge to U.S. Power in Asia. Offensive Realism provides a logically coherent basis for the view that China’s rise will be unpeaceful.
Mearsheimer’s theory is based on five assumptions. The first assumption is that there is anarchy in the international system, which means that there are no hierarchical coercive powers that can guarantee restrictions on state behaviour. Second, all major powers have offensive military capabilities and can deal with other countries. Third, states can never be sure that other states will avoid using offensive military capabilities. Fourth, the state strives to make its survival (territorial integrity and family autonomy) above all other goals, because this is the means to achieve all other goals. Fifth, states are rational actors, which means that they consider the direct and long-term consequences of their actions and how to survive strategically (Mearsheimer 2001, 31).
In an international system full of uncertainties about national intentions, the nature of national military capabilities, and the assistance provided by other countries in the struggle against hostile countries, Mearsheimer believes that the best way for a great power to ensure its survival is one that is higher than that of all. The goal is to maximize power and pursue hegemony. The pursuit of regional and global hegemony among all major powers has led to continued security competition and may lead to war. This is the so-called “political tragedy of great powers”: countries seeking security are forced to participate in conflicts to ensure their security.
Mearsheimer’s offensive realism theory started with assumptions similar to Kenneth Waltz’s defensive realism theory but came to different conclusions about the anarchy hypothesis. The main conclusion drawn by Waltz is the balance of power. The theory assumes that there is a recurring balance pattern, that is, countries with weaker states balance with stronger states (Waltz 1979, 117). This balance should prevent states from pursuing hegemony, because it would cause other states to unite against hegemonic bidders. Therefore, Waltz believes that the state is not a power maximiser, but a security maximiser. Once countries have sufficient power to ensure security, they will be satisfied and will not pursue greater power (Waltz 1989, 40). After all, in view of the inevitability of balance of power, countries competing for hegemony will inspire other countries in the international system to join the encirclement to fight against rising powers, thereby compromising the safety of bidders.
Mearsheimer rejects this conclusion but believes that the country can never be truly safe, and the survival of the country can only be guaranteed through the maximization of power. Contrary to the logic of defensive realists, the state has no power to satisfy. The reason why Mearsheimer rejects the inevitability of balance of power is due to the issue of collective action involving equilibrium. When states are wary of the cost of challenging the powerful by ally with weaker countries, they will shirk responsibility (which means they allow other countries to balance threats) until their own security is seriously threatened (Mearsheimer 2001, 39-40).
This means that aggressive countries cannot be restricted as easily as Waltz believes. Since balance is an unreliable limit to the ambitions of great powers, the motivation to fight for hegemony in the world of Mearsheimer is lower than in the waltz. Mearsheimer believes that given the small number of disadvantages and the threats posed by other countries, the best way to ensure the survival of a great power is to pursue hegemony. Although it is difficult to become a hegemon, it is much more difficult on a global scale than geographically. Mearsheimer insists that maximizing power is the best way to ensure the survival of the country (Mearsheimer 2001, 61).
It is easy to deduce the significance of this theory to China’s rise. As long as Mearsheimer’s hypothesis is applied, his conclusion should be followed logically. Although some people think his assumptions are not applicable or meaningless, it does not matter whether these assumptions are beyond the scope of my specific research. This article is concerned with whether these assumptions logically conclude that China’s rise will be peaceful.
Mearsheimer elaborated on the impact of his theory on the rise of China in “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics” (2001), but in subsequent works (2005, 2006, 2010) it is even more important. specific. Mearsheimer believes that it is impossible to accurately predict China’s current or future intentions, and it is difficult to distinguish between China’s defence and offensive military capabilities, and China’s past peaceful behaviour as unreliable indicators of future behaviour. These points also apply to the United States. Therefore, both countries will assume the worst intentions of the other country and respond to it. In the worst-case scenario, both countries are rational, and they will try to gather power, which will trigger a security competition with war potential. Therefore, China’s rise cannot be peaceful. When the United States and most of China’s neighbours try to contain China, China will inevitably strive for regional hegemony (Mearsheimer 2010, 382).
Methodology: Case Study: The Current Asia-Pacific Geopolitical Order
South China Sea
The study will use qualitative data collection and analysis methods. Data collection will focus on the qualitative methods of data collection, mainly document analysis. File analysis will be a crucial element in collecting data needed to answer research questions effectively. Data collection will primarily focus on existing resources, such as government reports, personal journals from leaders of different countries in the Asia-Pacific region, books on geopolitical changes, and online articles from trusted authors and websites. The data collection method will follow strict quality procedures that will use well-designed standards to check its credibility, transferability, reliability, and objectivity (Boru, 2018).
Chapter 2 China’s Grand Strategy
The great country should have a grand strategy. It is generally believed that China is a rising power, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. Most observers believe that Beijing does have a grand strategy, whether it is China at the beginning of the founding of the nation or China under Xi Jinping’s power. How can we know whether China has a grand strategy in the 21st century? How will China’s grand strategy be formulated? What impact might a grand strategy have on China’s future?This chapter first defines the concept of grand strategy, then demonstrates whether China has a grand strategy, reviews China’s grand strategy from the beginning of the founding of the country to the present and explains its far-reaching influence on China’s short-term and long-term national development.
There are many definitions of grand strategy, but most of them have some commonalities. The grand strategy focuses on the long-term and is structured in a broad framework (Ross and Bekkevold, 2016). A generally accepted definition is a grand strategy is a process by which a country links long-term goals and means, and its core is to promote the overall and lasting vision of national interests (Ross, 2013).This definition constitutes an “ends-ways-means” approach to strategy. This means that the grand strategy is more than just a slogan or wish list. In addition to articulating long-term goals, the grand strategy must also consider how to use which resources to achieve that goal. Because such a strategy is not made out of thin air. Grand strategyis often constructed based on an overall assessment of a country’s strengths and weaknesses and a careful analysis of the external security environment.
Based on the definition of grand strategy above,there is a fierce debate about whether China has a grand strategy. It is generally believed that it should have such a strategy because as a rising power, there must be a specific strategy to lead the development of the entire country, but many people think it does not. Moreover, there is a fairly common view that China’s grand strategy is incoherent, which reflects the lack of a specific grand strategy. In other words, China does not have a clear and consistent long-term fundamental national goal (Shi, 2001).
It is believed that China has always lacked a global strategy (Zhu, 2012).Especially China’s view of the world is minimal and conservative, and there is no grand strategy at all (Westad, 2012).When China enters the 21st century and its comprehensive strength has improved significantly, China lacks a coherent strategic vision for the world to occupy a place in the international community, and it fails to align its goals and means. The declaration of amicable relations and the handling of some militarized border disputes with neighbouring countries all reflect the contradictions of its purposes and means and the lack of grand strategy. For example, many stereotypes are hostile to Japan, while India territorial disputes intensified (Buzan, 2010).
Despite China’s fierce debate on grand strategy, China’s rapid development and subsequent redefinition of itself and its interests makes it not surprising that China currently does not have a clear grand strategy. China is indeed on the way forward and is also trying to draw a clear outline. After Xi Jinping came to power, he reiterated China’s foreign policy on various occasions. This shows that China does have a foreign policy vision and always regards itself as a central figure in world politics. Although China’s grand strategy has no official statement, it can Find signs of its parts (Wang, 2011).
Moreover, in the United States, which is now rivals, some scholars insist that the United States does not have a grand strategy either. Although the U.S. government may not have a formal document, it can infer a grand strategy by studying a collection of policy documents such as the national security strategy and the speeches of senior officials. But more challenging is China. This is because Chinese leaders are very ambitious, especially under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, with a recorded history of making long-term plans and developing strategies to achieve these grand goals (Barnett, 1967).
Wang Jisi (2011), in his article China’s Search for a Grand Strategy – A Rising Great Power Finds Its Way, analyses as China’s influence grows, how can the international community better understand China’s grand strategy. He also argues that China’s core interest is to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development at the same time, which is also the problematic basis for formulating foreign policy. Whether China has a grand strategy is still worthy of further determination. Still, it is possible to gradually understand China’s strategic thinking through China’s handling of various disputes with other countries in recent years (Wang, 2011). A consensus accepted by Chinese leaders is that the intervention of external forces causes the internal chaos. He reviews the concepts and policies of governing the country pursued by successive Chinese leaders, and the proletarian internationalism followed during Mao Zedong’s period. At the beginning of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, there was no grand strategy in any form. After the 1980s, Deng Xiaoping focused on commercial construction, but at this time, Beijing still pursued national sovereignty over human rights. After that, Jiang Zemin proposed 20 years of strategic opportunity, and Hu Jintao reiterated it that protecting sovereignty, security and development interests remain China’s primary goals (Wang, 2011).This shows that China does have a grand strategy, or it exists in another form.
Another interpretation of China’s grand strategy is to regard it as a concrete manifestation of the national strategy. Extending from China’s grand strategy is a series of national strategies and plans for almost all aspects of national policies. This includes political strategy, societal strategy, diplomatic strategy, economic strategy, science & technology strategy and military strategy (Scobell et al., 2020).The national strategyis more detailed than grand strategy, are more targeted, and focus on the medium-term rather than the long term. The national strategy is embodied in the official planning documents and main official speeches drawn up by the most critical leaders or the top leaders under senior leadership. These documents include things such as the “Five-Year Plan” (FYP) and keynote speeches at the CCP Congress. Under the national strategy are more specific strategies. Their goals are to maintain internal stability and social cohesion, strengthen central control over the CCP and Chinese civil institutions, and promote effective diplomacy, especially maintaining economic growth and prosperity, and maintaining social stability and harmony (Scobell et al., 2020).
Therefore, the question is not whether China has a grand strategy. It does exist. The key question is whether you fully understand the logic behind this grand strategy and its inherent contradictions and whether China has sufficient depth and consistency in its decision-making process to implement this strategy. Although China’s strategic outlook has a longer-term continuity, the most obvious one is to see itself as a central player in world politics (Zhang, 2011). Next, I will review China’s grand strategy since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, mainly focusing on the current Xi Jinping’s reign. Whether it is Mao Zedong’s revolutionary strategy or Deng Xiaoping’s reform and opening up, these changes provide the purpose and means for thinking about China’s grand strategy. It is also arelatively stable and consistent foundation.
Revolution: From 1949 to 1977
During the MAO Era (1949-76), and especially after the Sino-Soviet split in 1959, China’s economic priorities and foreign policy made it clear that China was a byword for “destroyer” or a staunch opponent of the Soviet Union and Us-led international organizations and economic system (Frazier, 2010).
China’s first grand strategic goal is to implement a socialist revolution in China while trying to rebuild an economy and society that has been severely damaged by decades of war and turmoil. The two are always incompatible because the highest priority of the Chinese government is political transformation and ideological reshaping. In essence, this means that China must be transformed into what Mao Zedong, the most important leader of China at the time, believed to be a socialist country (Meisner, 1977).Part of this vision is to protect New China from various domestic and foreign hostility and export such social revolutions to places outside China. This means strengthening China’s military power and assisting the revolutionary movements in countries such as North Korea and Vietnam. The establishment of this goal initially also meant an alliance with the powerful ideological supporter Soviet Union, even though the relationship between Beijing and Moscow had split before 1960. In the Mao Zedong era, China’s perception of its greatest threat was extremely superpower centric (Chen, 2001). In the 1950s and 1960s, the Chinese government believed that the greatest threat came from the United States. Beijing’s sense of insecurity made it realize the country’s need to develop its defence capabilities quickly, which led to Beijing’s decision in the mid-1950s to prioritize the development of its nuclear program. But the surprising thing is that by 1969, due to the deterioration of Sino-Soviet relations, China believed that the greatest existential threat to itself came from the Soviet Union, not the United States. The awareness of this threat continued until the late 1980s (Chen, 2001).
The way to realize the Chinese revolution in substance and ideology is to mobilize the masses. Although conditions and methods have changed throughout Mao Zedong’s reign, political struggles and economic turmoil were the lasting themes at that time. The policy of self-sufficiency means that Chinese workers, farmers, scientists, and soldiers are primarily isolated from ideas and technologies all over the world. In diplomacy, China tends to emphasize revolutionary ideals and support socialist regimes and liberation movements in developing countries. The foreign policy of the Mao Zedong era was not entirely without practical support for the communist activities around the world. Still, most of it consisted only of bluffing remarks and eye-catching gestures (Ness, 1970).
Recovery and Rebuild: From 1978 to 2003
After Mao Zedong died in 1976, the almost uninterrupted political struggle and continued economic backwardness exhausted many Chinese citizens (Harding, 1987).Although some leaders and voters support the continuation of the Maoist revolution, leaders with a sense of reform have gained sufficient elite and popular support to formulate a new grand strategy for national rejuvenation. The focus is to adopt a pragmatic attitude towards economic development, namely the “four modernizations” of agriculture, industry, science and technology, and national defence.
The most famous mantra of this grand recovery strategy is “reform and opening up (mainly opening up to the outside world).” The supreme leader Deng Xiaoping recognized that, relative to its smaller Asia-Pacific neighbours (including South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Hong Kong’s four “East Asian Little Dragons”), China’s biggest threat is its underdeveloped economy, slow growth and Technology is backward (Harding, 1987). Also, Beijing is aware that the external security environment at this time seems to be less threatening to China (Garver,2018).
During the reform and opening-up period, economic priority comes from the extensive “reform and opening up” policy framework. In the 1980s, this meant a rapid increase in agricultural productivity through a series of experiments in de-collectivization and rural industrialization, as well as foreign direct investment in special economic zones. As many studies have shown, China does not have a consistent strategy for transition from a planned economy (Frazier, 2010). Policymakers have continuously revised and adjusted the local experimental policies, while the political conflict among the elites centred on the pace of reform. 6 In terms of foreign policy, this period was one of the broadly pursued goals for improving relations with the United States and the Soviet Union. But this is not at the expense of sacrificing core principles such as sovereignty and non-interference. It involves criticism of the Chinese government’s behaviour at home and abroad by the United States and other Western countries. During this period, economic priority did not affect or limit China’s foreign policy preferences and choices. On the contrary, the international environment in the final stage of the Cold War was benign and improved. These favourable external conditions enabled Chinese leaders to formulate national grand strategies without being constrained by national security priorities with economic construction as the core (Frazier, 2010).
Although it clearly emphasizes economic modernization, an essential part of economic recovery is to establish a less ideologically tense environment in which people can have more room to act according to the entrepreneur’s instinct and pursue material matters. Inspire and follow your own personal interests. Daily life has become less organized, and individuals are given more freedom. As farmers responded to the opportunity to sell some crops on the free market, agricultural production increased. As private companies thrived due to suppressed consumer demand, the service industry began to flourish (Naughton, 1995).
Beijing’s continued commitment to reform and opening up, especially the surge of foreign investment in the early 1990s, demonstrates Beijing’s commitment to achieving economic goals and promoting a benign international environment (Shirk, 1993). Although the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the clear demonstration of American power projection in the 1991 Gulf War increased concerns about US hegemonic behaviour, the gains from China’s economic reforms and deepening ties with the US and other economies are not worthwhile Sacrifice through changing China’s grand strategy. At the same time, China opened up to the world by welcoming foreign investment and international trade, which also stimulated the Chinese economy (Shirk, 1993).
Rejuvenation: From 2004 to Xi’s Dream
After 50 consecutive years of reconstruction, by the first ten years of the 21st century, Chinese leaders are ready to raise their ambitions and take more decisive actions, especially among China’s neighbours. But by the end of the 2000s, Chinese leaders had realized that their inherent insecurity caused an increase in multiple traditional and non-traditional security threats. Although people are increasingly concerned about non-traditional threats including terrorism, especially Islamic extremism is becoming an internal security issue, Chinese leaders believe that the biggest existential threat is state-centric: the world’s only superpower the threat posed by Beijing (Wang, 1998). The danger of the United States is considered to be a dual threat, stemming from the formidable power and soft power of the United States. China is not only threatened by American military power and economic influence, but the regime is also threatened by the democratic and human rights ideals advocated by the United States. Although the threat of hard power is very obvious and visible to the naked eye, the threat of soft power is not so obvious, but it is more hidden. Chinese leaders are shocked by the popular movements in countries around the world, including the Color Revolutions and the Arab Spring. Leaders believe these movements are the products of American conspiracies (Wang, 1998).
Although the supreme leader Hu Jintao served as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China in late 2003 and resigned from the post ofPresident of China in March 2004, when he retired ten years later, he did not show a dynamic image or a strong character. But he presided over an exciting China. Began to increase visibility on the international stage. Xi Jinping is hailed as the chief instigator and principal initiator of a stronger and more confident China, but the fact is that this trend began with his predecessor. There is no doubt that Xi Jinping has pushed it to a point where Hu Jintao is unwilling to accept it. Also, it was Xi Jinping who promoted the attractive “Chinese Dream” slogan and supported this dream with ambitious measures at the beginning of his first five-year term (Scobell et al., 2020). In November 2012, Xi Jinping became the General Secretary and Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. He is a member of the Military Commission and took office as the President of China four months later.
Xi Jinping’s unique style and implementation of the revival strategy has aggravated the international community’s worries about China’s rise. Such concerns first appeared in the mid-1990s and have surfaced under the leadership of Hu Jintao in recent years. Since then, more and more issues have been included in the discussion, from the debt as mentioned above trap diplomacy to China’s growing military footprint at sea and East Asia, to China’s influence on the domestic political, social, and academic life of other countries (Kranz, M. 2018). This reaction is not limited to the United States. It is also evident in Australia, Canada and the European Union, which prompted them to reassess their China policy.
Given this response, Xi Jinping’s attitude towards China’s grand strategy did not seem to restore the international environment conducive to the country’s revival, which prevailed for most of the first two decades after the Cold War, when China initially emphasized keeping a low profile. And then take action to reassure those who are worried about its rise. On the contrary, Xi Jinping’s approach, especially his emphasis on reforming the existing international order, and unabashedly used China’s more significant economic and military influence to support its own defined core interests, has created a more powerful way to achieve the country’s revival (Goldstein, 2020).
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