Rationale for Revisionism? Neoclassical Realism and China’s New Maritime Assertiveness
Wettach, Taylor Michael
Cha, Victor D
The renewed tension between China and other claimant states over disputed territories in the East and South China Seas in the past few years has generated widespread concern about China’s increasing assertiveness in bolstering its claims. While China’s development of greater relative power is undoubtedly significant to its pursuit of a more assertive maritime policy, this systemic factor does not in itself sufficiently serve to explain the aforementioned development. This paper advances a neoclassical realist argument that a confluence of domestic political interests serves as the most significant complementary variable. In summary, the increasing strategic significance of the maritime domain to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s performance-based legitimacy and China’s goal of national rejuvenation (domestic political elements) can be seen to have interacted with the perception of growing relative power (an international political element), leading to a decision among Chinese leadership in regard to China’s new maritime assertiveness post-2008 financial crisis.
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