The Narrowing US-China Power Gap and the China Threat Theory Transition and Stability in East Asian Regional Order


This research examines the much debated issue of the possibility of China’s peaceful rise under the prism of regional transitional stability-instability model as the indicator of future trajectories. The current phase in East Asian politics is observed as the start of regional takeover attempt which does not necessarily require the equality of US and Chinese potentials (unlike the global takeover). Further I discuss the claimed potential of the regional order to impose constraints on China’s revisionism analyzing ASEAN’s and Japan’s reactions. China’s threat theory and the opposing China’s peaceful rise concept are thoroughly reviewed from theoretical, methodological and strategic points of view. Comparative case study and statistical analysis is applied to the US-China relations of 2001-2014. By the means of systematic analysis regional transitional stability-instability model is developed and it argues that China is not a status quo power. Further two approaches to the transformation of regional status quo are separately evaluated. Finally I show the limitations on the economic interdependence in US-China relations as the factor preserving them from geopolitical rivalry. Among conclusions of the study of East Asian regional order is that trends in East Asia should not be observed in scope of devolution of power concept when regional powers limit their role to regional hegemony rather in scope of “evolution of power”. In this case global status quo is not challenged directly but after ascending to regional hegemony staircase which means that temporary devolution does not mean securing from future global bid.

Author Information
David Sarkisyan, Yerevan State University, Republic of Armenia

Paper Information
Conference: NACSS2014
Stream: International Relations and Human Rights

This paper is part of the NACSS2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon