The Rise of China and the Changing Nature of Power in the 21st Century

Adam Liff, Assistant Professor of International Relations, Indiana University
| Stiteler Hall B26

This talk engages two basic questions: What makes China’s rise to “great power” status in the  21st century different from those of the past, and what does that mean for the potential for international conflict within or beyond East Asia? The discipline of political science generally accepts the idea that theory-driven assessments or predictions of real-world phenomena should recognize when value of important causal variables change, and should modify expectations accordingly. Yet when it comes to the literature on rising powers, and China specifically, influential studies make a number of assertions that a closer examination of this specific case reveal to be deeply problematic. A systematic application of associated theoretical claims to the contemporary empirical reality of China’s rise and its foreign policies reveals the limited applicability of several widespread assumptions, and the associated need for a more nuanced understanding of the likely drivers of conflict and cooperation.