Measuring Chinese Aggression: Military Exercises as Cost Imposition on Alignment with the United States
Although the sentiment that People’s Republic of China (PRC) foreign policy has become increasingly aggressive in recent years, particularly upon the leadership of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping, current English-language empirical research into this aggression has largely measured PRC aggression through economic metrics, such as People’s Liberation Army (PLA) spending rather than measuring aggressive PRC or PLA actions. This question is increasingly relevant given the current trajectory of U.S.-PRC competition and arguably confrontational policies, such as increasing PLA maritime military exercises or the American policies of Rebalancing to Asia and the Free and Open Indo Pacific Strategy implemented in the Barack Obama and Donald Trump administrations, respectively. To address this apparent gap, I attempt to examine the relationship between PRC aggression, as measured in PLA maritime military exercises, and American alignment with states neighboring the PRC, the increase of which has been the object of U.S. Asia-Pacific policy since 2012. I was unable to construct a model using publicly available data that drew meaningful results, however, and as such identified data limitations in the field which likely contribute to the literature gap.