Change and Continuity in Chinese Strategic Culture - Chinese Decision-Making in the Taiwan Strait
Degree awarded: M.A. School of International Service. American University This thesis examines how China's predominant strategic culture has changed since the 1950s. This thesis analyzes Chinese decision-making in the Taiwan Strait from 1954-2011 - paying attention to years of heightened tension in the Taiwan Strait (1954-55, 1958, 1995-1996).This thesis argues that China's strategic culture was once realpolitik, but is now shifting toward a more engagement, stability-oriented strategic culture - a neoliberal strategic culture packaged in Confucian rhetoric. Under the leadership of Chairman Mao Zedong, China practiced a realpolitik strategic culture, while other strategic cultural discourses (Confucianism) were intentionally shunned. China's 1978 Reform and Opening policies, however allowed Chinese elites to reconsider China's dominant realpolitik strategic culture. Chinese elites now adopt a more pragmatic economic approach and are actively promoting Confucianism to fill the ideological void left by Marxism. Additionally, China's economic opening and engagement with international institutions have resulted in a shift in Chinese strategic thinking from a predominately realist orientation toward a more constructivist one. This thesis contends that these changes in China's strategic culture are manifest in the PRC's Taiwan policy.