China’s Sea Dreams: Xi Jinping, The Chinese Dream, And China’s Behavior In The South China Sea Disputes

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2021-05

Authors

Desai, Dhruv

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Abstract

This thesis seeks to characterize China’s assertive behavior in the South China Sea (SCS) disputes in light of Xi Jinping’s promotion of the Chinese Dream and drastic political reforms. China’s policies towards the SCS since 2012 indicate a paradigm shift from earlier administrations given that this behavior is completely new or qualitatively different, bolder in that it involves the overt demonstration of Chinese power, and unprovoked. The country’s assertive policies in the disputes can also be described as coercive, militarizing, or declarative. These changes allude to the augmentation of Chinese military capabilities, influence of perceived American containment policies, and growing nationalism; however, they are more comprehensively explained by the implications of the Xi Jinping’s Chinese Dream. The Chinese Dream indicates the importance of realizing the nation’s claims in the SCS for the domestic audience and rejuvenation of China. It also is the impetus behind the drastic political reforms which have directly and indirectly shaped the nation’s behavior in the SCS disputes. Xi’s consolidation of power and consequent military modernization efforts has allowed China to exercise its regional claims via an overwhelmingly dominant naval presence in the SCS. Xi’s strategy of power projection, aided by the promotion of his striving for achievement policy, exemplifies how China’s assertive behavior is the result of a greater interest in international development and shaping global norms, demands for respect and equal treatment, and uncompromising stance issues constituting core interests.

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