Beyond Rivalry and Camaraderie

Explaining Varying Asian Responses to China

by John F. Fei

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Abstract

Asian states often make tradeoffs between economic and military security goals, and shifts in states' preferences for economic advantage versus military strength explain variation and diversity in their responses to China. Countries that prioritize technological advantage and economic strength respond differently to China than those that do not because they accept a greater degree of security risk to realize economic gains from interactions with China. This dissertation assesses the security and economic policy responses of a representative sample of Asian states to China between 1992 and 2008. The responses of Japan, Korea and Thailand have defied predictions of the dominant international relations paradigm — realism — that states would either balance against or bandwagon with a rising China. However, the three states have not discarded consideration of external security threats. Differences in how Japan, Korea and Thailand have responded to China over time are explained not only by changes in China's military threat, but perceptions of the threat as weighed against changing economic priorities. Domestic strategic evolution — change in political structure and grand strategy — has had an important impact on the manner in which the three nations have responded to China. The findings of this dissertation bear on both the study and practice of international security policy. Domestic politics and state preferences are important factors to consider when explaining the responses of Asian states to China, responses which would not have been implied by the consideration of external threats alone. Understanding the determinants of Asian nations' different and evolving preferences for the ratio of economic versus military strength will aid U.S. officials in formulating policies that affirm these states' strategic interests.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction, Theory, Literature Review and Research Design

  • Chapter Two

    Japan's Response to China

  • Chapter Three

    Korea's Response to China

  • Chapter Four

    Thailand's Response to China

  • Chapter Five

    Conclusions

  • Appendix

This document was submitted as a dissertation in February 2011 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Andrew Hoehn (Chair), Eric Heginbotham, and Dalia Dassa Kaye.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation dissertation series. PRGS dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a PRGS faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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