Date Thesis Awarded

4-2015

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

Government

Advisor

Marcus Holmes

Committee Member

Tun-jen Cheng

Committee Member

Kyrill Kunakhovich

Abstract

The rise of China (PRC) has dominated scholarly debates in recent days. Since China defined territorial integrity as its “core interest”, it is widely viewed as a sign that China is going to assert its territorial claims with its neighbours (including maritime neighbours such as Philippine). With China’s growing military capabilities, China’s territorial disputes with its many neighbours are becoming one of the leading destabilizing concerns in Asia. However, current scholarship on China’s decision-making in its territorial disputes is too sparse for people outside of the Chinese Politburo to devise strategies to stabilize the region. This thesis aims to understand China’s decision(s) to use force and the decision-making process from a “national identity” perspective. Specifically, this thesis studies Chinese national identities and China’s decision to go to war with India in October 1962. Borrowing largely from Ted Hopf (2002)’s method of studying Soviet identities, this thesis uses discourse analysis to inductively recover Chinese national identities from newspapers, novels and movies. This thesis’ key assumption is that as part of society and public discourse, decision-makers’ understanding of world events should not deviate significantly from national discourses. Therefore, national identities should be a reliable reference point to the decisions-making of “big” national issues, such as defending state sovereignty. The findings of this thesis confirm that assumptions for two reasons: a). findings are in line with existing, authoritative theories on China’s decision for war with India and b). findings are able to provide extra empirical support to inferential statements made by authoritative scholars on this topic.

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