Chinese decision-making in response to

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The People’s Republic of China (PRC) doubtlessly has made astonishing changes at all levels and in nearly all aspects over its course of more than five decades of existence. In the midst of the ups and downs of revolutions, political campaigns, economic reforms, and rapid growth since 1949, China now has emerged into a much better situation in terms of security environment than anytime before (Chen, 1993). The international, regional and domestic environments are all relatively peaceful and positive for China’s further development. Remarkably, China has averaged a 9.4% of annual GDP growth since the opening up and economic reforms in 1978 (Zheng, 2005). China has surpassed the United Kingdom to become the fourth largest economy in the world. As the new engine of the world factory China has turned into a crucial exporter to many countries and regions around the globe. In addition, overall, Chinese people have enjoyed much wealthier lives than ever before featuring, for instance, rapid growth in the ownership of mobile communication devices, Internet usage and automobiles. In the United Nations and other international organizations (e.g., the World Trade Organization, or WTO) and multilateral forums (e.g., Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, This University of Missouri Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved the use of human subject participants in this dissertation project (IRB Approval Project Number 1050676).

and Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or SCO), China has gained growing clout in issues concerning world peace, prosperity and stability. With the expansion of Chinese economy and national power, government officials and pundits from around the world are concerned about the future of China and its impact on the rest of the world. Indeed, the rise of China has attracted heated attention to the key issue Will the rise of China be peaceful (and positive) or belligerent (and negative) to the world From the US perspective, will China’s rise pose any serious threat to the US national security and its strategic interests in East Asia Bernstein and Munro (1997), Kaiser (2000), Ricks (2000), Rosecrance (2006), Lake (2006), among other scholars and political observers, all express strong concerns about the expansion and increasing importance of China in the international system from different perspectives. Bernstein and Munro are among the China threat school of thought, warning the US of an upcoming military conflict with China. Other scholars see this somewhat differently. For instance, Scobell (2000), Christensen (2001) and Kugler (2006), in their respective analyses, offer cautious predictions that China will not become a military threat to the US national security and strategic interests in East Asia in the coming 10-15 years. Moreover, echoed in Christensen (2001), Scobell (2000: 25) argues that a strong, centralized China is much easier to deal with than a weak, fragmented China that would pose more serious threats to the regional and global security. By contrast, many scholars (most of them from China for apparent reasons) view
China’s rise as a peaceful (or at least unharmful) move that could be conducive to world peace and prosperity (e.g., Ruan, 2004; Yan, 2004; Zheng, 2005). Through government statements and scholarly articles, Beijing has reiterated and reassured that China would

never seek for regional (and global) hegemony and that the rise of China will be peaceful and mutually beneficial to other countries. Still, many observers and analysts from overseas are seriously concerned about
China’s expansive appetite for energy supply and other natural resources. This is evident in the recent discussions in the western media (such as Financial Times) about Chinese leaders unusually frequent high-profile contacts with African and Latin American countries that are rich in petroleum and mineral resources. In particular, China’s expansive exchanges with a number of African countries stirred the criticism in the western media of China’s neocolonialism in Africa. The public perceptions of China, particularly in the US and China’s neighboring countries, also send signals of concerns about China’s potential threat. In Table 1-1, the most recent Gallup poll data on Americans views concerning the rise of China show that although slightly more Americans hold positive opinion (48%), nearly half of Americans
(46%) perceive China’s economic growth as negative development for the US. More Americans perceive China as an economic threat (64%) than as a military threat (50%). Clearly, the number of people who indicated negative perceptions in regards to both the economic and military threats of China surpasses the number of people who held positive views. Chinese foreign policy features abroad scope and complicated themes. Most notably, among other things, China is seen widely as a distinctive power when dealing with international relations in general and foreign policy crises in particular. This distinctive feature reflects many aspects of Chinese politics, from the political institutions and development strategy to the communist ideology, traditions, political culture and

strategic thinking. For these reasons, Chinese foreign policy and decision-making remain nearly mythical in spite of many scholarly attempts to unveil it. In this context, the present project is intended to provide insights about Chinese decision-making in response to major crises with other countries. The research questions of this dissertation project are How do Chinese leaders make decisions in response to foreign policy crises Why do they make such choices As will become more apparent, these queries possess practical and theoretical significance, given the rising status of China as a world power. The present study seeks to make substantive and theoretical contributions in the following areas (1) to strengthen theoretical relevance of Chinese foreign policy-making and (2) to empirically test the Poliheuristic Theory (PH) of foreign policy decision-making in a distinctive Chinese context. The study aims to illuminate Chinese decision-making, particularly in the handling of foreign policy crises. Specifically, this project uses PH, developed by Mintz (1993, a, which incorporates both psychological and rational choice components in a synthesis of these previously isolated approaches, to explain decision-making in Chinese foreign policy crises. In the existing literature of foreign policy decision-making, PH has not yet been applied to the Chinese context to test its validity. Testing PH in a hard (least likely) case, such as China, would further strengthen the empirical validity of the theory. Taken from the authoritative compilation of the International Crisis Behavior (ICB) Project, nine foreign policy crises (with available data) in which China is a crisis actor span the period from 1949 to 1996. A structured, focused comparative analysis of Chinese decision- making in times of crisis is used to test two primary hypotheses derived from PH.

The two primary hypotheses focus on how decisions are anticipated to occur over two stages of the decision-making process During Stage I, decision-makers tend to rely on the noncompensatory rule, which places primacy on political considerations, to determine viable options and at the same time eliminate politically unacceptable options during Stage II, decision-makers tend to make the final choice based on considerations along more diversified policy dimensions inline with rational calculations such as expected utility-maximization. In the following chapters, it will be argued that PH is a useful theory to facilitate better understanding of Chinese decision-making in foreign policy crises because it allows fora comprehensive look at the process and outcome of decision-making. Moreover, some of the essential features in crisis settings, including protracted conflict and superpower opponent, are scrutinized to see whether any consistent patterns associate these attributes with the decision-making process. The vast body of research on Chinese foreign policy is especially limited in the area of foreign policy decision-making. Part of the obstacle lies with the secretive tradition of Chinese policy-making, particularly in decisions directly concerning national security. Scholars from the outside, as a result, have a hard time obtaining reliable sources to unveil the decision-making process. Another reason for the limitations has to do with the gap between Chinese studies as an area study and social sciences in general. As an area study, studies of Chinese foreign policy are less theory-laden but more fact- based analyses. From the perspective of modern social sciences, this poses a disadvantage that calls for theoretically driven improvement. While the approaches to Chinese foreign policy decision-making are diversified, there is alack of synthesis of these different approaches. Related to this, as will be explained in detail in Chapter 2,

there is alack of an integrated macro-micro analysis of Chinese foreign policy-making. Many existing studies still emphasize single case studies featuring traditional descriptive analysis, which shed little light on the systemic understanding of Chinese decision- making. Therefore, the present investigation attempts to fill the gap in this regard by incorporating one of the most prominent theories of foreign policy decision-making with a structured, focused comparative analysis of Chinese foreign policy crises. This would illuminate how Chinese leaders make key decisions in crises and what lead to such decisions in a systematic and more theoretically driven way. More broadly speaking, the present study contributes to further understanding of both outcome and process of foreign policy decision-making during crises and the dynamics of these decisions with the other parties involved in the crises. In international relations, leaders decisions are extremely important to policy choice and its effect. Human history tells the importance of foreign policy decisions. This is particularly true in crises between/among states ill handling of the crises by either/both sides) could risk escalation of the crises to militarized disputes and even interstate wars. The appeasement of Adolf Hitler’s Germany by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s administration in the late s, one of the most well-known foreign policy failures, served as part of the direct causes of Germany’s aggressive expansion in Europe, which led to the outbreak of World War II. Another casein point is the decision in favor of a blockade by John F. Kennedy’s administration during the Cuban Missile Crisis, which saved the US and the USSR from a disastrous nuclear war. Richard Nixon and Mao
Zedong’s decisions to normalize the relations between the US and China fundamentally changed the balance of power in Asia at the peak of the Cold War. These decisions not

only proved to be critical to the parties involved in the crises they also played a crucial role in shaping the structure and power distribution of international politics. Intrigued by the myths of foreign policy decisions in crisis, this dissertation focuses on foreign policy decision-making and its implications. In the growing literature of PH, the theory has yet to be explicitly applied to Chinese decision-making. While PH is developed as a generalizable, social-science-type of theory, most of the empirical studies based on PH focus on decision-making in the US, among other advanced industrial democracies. This problem exists mostly because of the understandable difficulty in obtaining reliable sources in other underdeveloped or nondemocratic countries. However, it is desirable to continue to make efforts in contributing
PH-based empirical studies. The present study represents a step toward this direction. This project bears both theoretical and practical significance. Theoretically, this study tests the external validity of PH in nondemocratic countries, which has been evaluated so farina primarily US context. Moreover, general, but falsifiable, hypotheses are proposed so that relatively rigorous testing is possible. The case analysis also leads to further discussions that link crisis decision-making with protracted conflict and superpower opponent. Empirical study of Chinese decision-making in response to crises bears practical significance. Structured comparative analysis is most useful in untangling the key considerations of Chinese leaders who faced the past major crises. It allows further understanding of Chinese strategic thinking and political culture. Linkage between political culture and rational thinking based on national power, balance of power and strategic interactions would offer afresh look at Chinese foreign policy. Such analysis

also links Chinese foreign policy study with Chinese domestic politics. This sets the foundation for forecasting current or future Chinese foreign policy choices. Furthermore, analysis of past Chinese foreign policy crises helps understand, assess and forecast Chinese foreign policy choices in future crises, which are likely to occur in the context of a heightened perception of threat on the US side and China’s growing craving, not only for more natural resources to support its sustaining development, but also greater power status in the world. As an example, Taiwan still poses a likely spark point for more crises between China and the US, although Hu Jintao, the fourth generation leadership of China, has made substantial efforts to ease the tensions with Taiwan.
The dissertation is composed of the following chapters. The present chapter serves as the introduction, including general descriptions of the research questions, the theoretical foundation, the methodology, and the theoretical and empirical implications of this study. Chapter 2 follows with an investigation of existing studies on Chinese foreign policy through the significant but gradual transformation in Chinese politics since 1949, from Mao’s personality cult and ideological mass campaigns in policy-making to the blend of pragmatism, nationalism, bureaucratic authoritarianism, and strategic thinking during Deng’s and Jiang’s eras. The transformation has had crucial implications on policy-making, particularly Chinese foreign policy-making. The various elements contributing to the nature of Chinese foreign policy-making all combine to emphasize the Most notable of these efforts included Beijing’s high-profile, widely broadcast welcomes to the opposition party leaders from Taiwan, including the KMT’s Lian Zhan (or Lien Zhan) and James Soong, during the multiple visits to the mainland since 2005.

fundamental importance of domestic politics in foreign affairs. Moreover, individuals, on the basis of factionalism, play crucial roles in Chinese decision-making. Several specific issues exist in the studies of Chinese foreign policy (1) little theoretical and/or empirically rigorous progress has been achieved as compared to studies on Chinese domestic politics (2) the dilemma still exists that policy-making relies on party unity that has coexisted with factional politics (Huang, 2000); and (3) there is alack of any theoretical framework that is able to capture the whole picture, explaining both the process (how) and outcome (why) of Chinese foreign policy-making. I devote Chapter 3 to a thorough review of the PH literature indifferent domains of decision-making, along with a presentation of the primary and secondary hypotheses. The PH propositions derive from the discussion of rationality, which leads to further analysis of the false dichotomy between the cognitive and rational approaches. PH bridges the gap between the two approaches by contending that foreign policy decision- making takes place in two stages, which explains why neither cognitive nor rational approaches have had much success in providing a complete picture. As an option to the expected utility theory and other rational decision models (Mintz, a, PH deserves further application to foreign policy decision-making, especially in areas that have been studied in more strictly traditional, descriptive ways. The primary hypotheses deal with the two stages of decision-making while the secondary hypotheses explore the linkages between decision-making and some of the key attributes of foreign policy crises – specifically, protracted conflict and superpower opponent. This represents another substantive contribution to the literature of crisis decision-making.

Chapter 4 introduces the structured, focused comparison used as the primary method for this study, presents the Chinese foreign policy crises identified in the ICB data set and elaborates the coding procedures for the crises. The design of the structured, focused comparative analysis follows George’s (1979) four steps (1) defining the variables (2) selecting the cases (3) formulating the questionnaire and (4) collecting the data with the emphasis of inter-coder reliability. These are critical procedures to ensure the structured and focused nature of the comparative study. In spite of some limitations and practical difficulties during data collection, the research design as a whole is valid and useful to test PH and the related hypotheses. Chapter 5 tests the two primary hypotheses, along with the two secondary hypotheses, in the context of crisis decision-making of Chinese leadership.
Overall, the results for the primary hypotheses find strong empirical support. In the Chinese context, political leaders decision-making suggests that their political survival is closely associated with intra-Party factional struggles, public legitimacy and individual leaders personalities. In terms of the decision-making process, during the initial screening of all the available options, decision-makers tend to keep the options that they anticipate will do little political harm to themselves and throwaway those they anticipate might be harmful politically. The evidence from Chinese crisis decision-making in this study clearly supports the core of PH. Chapter 6 concludes with a balanced effort to evaluate the research design and results. More importantly, it highlights the theoretical and empirical significance of this Given the limited number of cases that can be used to test the two secondary hypotheses, the testing of the linkages of the decision-making process with protracted conflict and superpower actor, respectively, is tentative in the present study.

study in the field of foreign policy analysis (FPA), in general, and Chinese foreign policy, in particular.

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