The pivot and Peking

The US response to China in East Asia

Authored by: Richard A. Bitzinger

Security and Conflict in East Asia

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  April  2015

Print ISBN: 9781857437171
eBook ISBN: 9781315850344
Adobe ISBN:


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China’s emergence as an economic, geopolitical and perhaps even cultural great power has been undeniable. Its military rise has been equally indisputable, even if the implications of this military build-up are still open to debate. Beijing has, for at least a decade and a half, invested considerable resources, in terms of both money and human capital, into building up its armed forces – and it is paying off. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is a much more capable force, compared to its neighbours, than it was 20 years ago. This modernized and revitalized military force is being matched by (or perhaps this modernization process has even enabled) a new assertiveness, obstinacy and obduracy in international affairs; this ‘bad behaviour’ has been witnessed almost daily in both the East and South China Seas. When coupled with the country’s long-standing – and perhaps even growing – sense of ‘victimhood’ and the need to ‘reclaim lost status’, the result is a more militarily capable China that may be much less inclined to negotiate and compromise, and instead may be more prone to use force or the threat of force to achieve its goals (Medeiros 2009: 10–11).

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