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postgraduate thesis: Explaining the variations in the grand strategies of Imperial China : material capabilities, Confucian culture and interest conflict

TitleExplaining the variations in the grand strategies of Imperial China : material capabilities, Confucian culture and interest conflict
Authors
Advisors
Advisor(s):Hu, WR
Issue Date2018
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Meng, W. [孟维瞻]. (2018). Explaining the variations in the grand strategies of Imperial China : material capabilities, Confucian culture and interest conflict. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.
AbstractThis thesis aims to answer: why did ancient China always change its strategies towards some of its neighboring states? Traditional views stereotyped the foreign relations of ancient China as a “tributary system.” However, this does not adequately provide a satisfactory explanation of all the variations in Chinese strategies. Recently, several new interpretations have emerged within academic circles, such as Confucian pacifism, cultural realism, offensive realism and some deep analysis based on English schools or “game theory.” However, since these explanations come from various studies of different periods of time, they may bring very different or even sometimes contradicting views regarding history. The debate among them has yet to be solved because of the different historical periods they focus on. Despite this, the present thesis only focuses on the history of Sino-Korean relations. It still attempts to conduct a study of a relatively long period of history of China’s foreign relations, and it dynamically analyzes the changes of China's foreign strategies during this period. This thesis addresses not only periods of Chinese dominance but also of periods of relative parity among Eastern and Central Asian policies. Moreover, it deals with both the empires established by the Han Chinese and by the nomadic empires considered the “barbarians” at the time. This is the only way we could view this debate and come with a comprehensive and systematic understanding of the grand strategies of ancient China. With this basis, we can summarize some of the inspiration of ancient China’s strategies with a theory related to international relations and to contemporary China’s external policy. The analytical framework is based on Confucian relationalism. The dependent variable is the grand strategies of Imperial China, and there are three independent variables with three corresponding groups of hypotheses. The first independent variable is the power position of Imperial China in the international system of Eastern Asia, and the second one is the cultural attractiveness of Imperial China towards its neighboring states. The third hypothesis is the degree of conflict of interest between China and its neighboring states. This thesis treats the power position that Imperial China exerted as having overriding influence on the strategic choices of Imperial China. When Eastern Asia was under the primacy of Imperial China, China tended to pursue expressive strategies emphasizing mutual obligation and affection based on the hierarchical norms of the Confucian philosophy. Otherwise, China was inclined to use hierarchical norms instrumentally to pursue its interests. However, power position was not a decisive factor for coercive or conciliatory policies of China, and a powerful China could adopt not only conciliatory strategies approaches but also some coercive ones toward its neighbors. A high degree of interest conflicts encouraged Imperial China to seek coercive policies. Moreover, when a Sinicized nomadic empire was eager to establish the hierarchical order but was not culturally attractive to its neighbors, it could not adopt instrumental strategies. Therefore, the expressive strategies it pursued would gradually transform from coercive to conciliatory.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
Dept/ProgramPolitics and Public Administration
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/255470

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorHu, WR-
dc.contributor.authorMeng, Weizhan-
dc.contributor.author孟维瞻-
dc.date.accessioned2018-07-05T07:43:40Z-
dc.date.available2018-07-05T07:43:40Z-
dc.date.issued2018-
dc.identifier.citationMeng, W. [孟维瞻]. (2018). Explaining the variations in the grand strategies of Imperial China : material capabilities, Confucian culture and interest conflict. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/255470-
dc.description.abstractThis thesis aims to answer: why did ancient China always change its strategies towards some of its neighboring states? Traditional views stereotyped the foreign relations of ancient China as a “tributary system.” However, this does not adequately provide a satisfactory explanation of all the variations in Chinese strategies. Recently, several new interpretations have emerged within academic circles, such as Confucian pacifism, cultural realism, offensive realism and some deep analysis based on English schools or “game theory.” However, since these explanations come from various studies of different periods of time, they may bring very different or even sometimes contradicting views regarding history. The debate among them has yet to be solved because of the different historical periods they focus on. Despite this, the present thesis only focuses on the history of Sino-Korean relations. It still attempts to conduct a study of a relatively long period of history of China’s foreign relations, and it dynamically analyzes the changes of China's foreign strategies during this period. This thesis addresses not only periods of Chinese dominance but also of periods of relative parity among Eastern and Central Asian policies. Moreover, it deals with both the empires established by the Han Chinese and by the nomadic empires considered the “barbarians” at the time. This is the only way we could view this debate and come with a comprehensive and systematic understanding of the grand strategies of ancient China. With this basis, we can summarize some of the inspiration of ancient China’s strategies with a theory related to international relations and to contemporary China’s external policy. The analytical framework is based on Confucian relationalism. The dependent variable is the grand strategies of Imperial China, and there are three independent variables with three corresponding groups of hypotheses. The first independent variable is the power position of Imperial China in the international system of Eastern Asia, and the second one is the cultural attractiveness of Imperial China towards its neighboring states. The third hypothesis is the degree of conflict of interest between China and its neighboring states. This thesis treats the power position that Imperial China exerted as having overriding influence on the strategic choices of Imperial China. When Eastern Asia was under the primacy of Imperial China, China tended to pursue expressive strategies emphasizing mutual obligation and affection based on the hierarchical norms of the Confucian philosophy. Otherwise, China was inclined to use hierarchical norms instrumentally to pursue its interests. However, power position was not a decisive factor for coercive or conciliatory policies of China, and a powerful China could adopt not only conciliatory strategies approaches but also some coercive ones toward its neighbors. A high degree of interest conflicts encouraged Imperial China to seek coercive policies. Moreover, when a Sinicized nomadic empire was eager to establish the hierarchical order but was not culturally attractive to its neighbors, it could not adopt instrumental strategies. Therefore, the expressive strategies it pursued would gradually transform from coercive to conciliatory.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.-
dc.titleExplaining the variations in the grand strategies of Imperial China : material capabilities, Confucian culture and interest conflict-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplinePolitics and Public Administration-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.date.hkucongregation2018-
dc.identifier.mmsid991044019488603414-

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