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Emerging from an award-winning article in International Security, China's Gambit examines when, why, and how China attempts to coerce states over perceived threats to its national security. Since 1990, China has used coercion for territorial disputes and issues related to Taiwan and Tibet, yet China is curiously selective in the timing, target, and tools of coercion. This book offers a new and generalizable cost-balancing theory to explain states' coercion decisions. It demonstrates that China does not coerce frequently and uses military coercion less when it becomes stronger, resorting primarily to non-militarized tools. Leveraging rich empirical evidence, including primary Chinese documents and interviews with Chinese and foreign officials, this book explains how contemporary rising powers translate their power into influence and offers a new framework for explaining states' coercion decisions in an era of economic interdependence, particularly how contemporary global economic interdependence affects rising powers' foreign security policies.

Cambridge University Press, 2024

Economic Interdependence and Rising Power Grand Strategies

Compared to historical rising powers, China does not use force as often as historical rising powers, prefers to utilize coercion instead of force, and tends to resort to nonmilitarized coercive tools. China exhibits a curious pattern of using nonmilitarized means to achieve its grand strategic ends. What explains China’s divergent path compared to historical rising powers such as the early American Republic, Germany under Bismarck, and Meiji Japan? Specifically, what is the impact of global economic interdependence on rising powers’ grand strategies? Do current global production and supply chains provide different incentives to contemporary rising powers’ grand strategies?


This second book project defines grand strategy as utilizing available resources, including diplomatic, economic, and military means to achieve the end goals as laid out by the state. The literature on grand strategy tends to be siloed: there is a rich literature explaining and evaluating China’s grand strategy as well as extensive literature on the grand strategy of the United States and historical great powers, but rarely do they interact. There is also a rich literature on economic interdependence centering on the debate of whether the “commercial peace” proposition holds for a rising China. Therefore, this book intends to apply theories in international political economy to examine rising powers’ grand strategic choices, comparing China’s grand strategy against historical rising powers’ grand strategies. It plans to employ qualitative methods such as process tracing and congruence testing, leveraging rich empirical evidence, including primary Chinese documents and interviews with Chinese and foreign officials, as well as historiographies, economic data, and archival documents on historical rising powers.

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