College of Social Sciences, NTU


Prof. Chih-yu Shih :China’s Quest for Grand Strategy: Power, National Interest, or Relational Security?

  • 2016-11-18


Chih-yu Shih
Chiung-chiu Huang 


■Published In:
The Chinese Journal of International Politics, First published online: October 28, 2014

As China’s power steadily rises, mutual role expectations between China and the United States become increasingly unstable. To ensure a mutually agreeable role for China, Chinese grand strategy has the double mission of presenting China as an accepted and respected matching power and of assuring the incumbent hegemonic power that China is a role-player. We apply the notion of national role style to analyse China’s grand strategy. We argue that China adopts the sociological role conception and examines the grand strategy of the rising power accordingly. Through examining China’s policy towards US arms sales to Taiwan, we show how a role-playing China has tried to execute a grand strategy to coach the incumbent hegemonic power into acknowledging China’s rise to the status of a matching power. We argue that the importance of maintaining a stable relationship with the United States has trumped China’s core national interest of unification, pertaining to US arms sales to Taiwan. In practice, China treats arms sales as a bilateral issue, and would rather appeal to sociological role expectations through a bilateral convention than through any general value. The United States, on the other hand, despite its willingness to cope with China in an exclusively bilateral format, has always tried to push China to accept universal rules at the expense of the alleged national differences between the two countries, thereby defeating the sociological role expectation.