Assessing the Power of China: Insights from the Conceptual Thinking about Power

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The paper seeks to enrich the discussion of China’s power by critically engaging with existing literature on the topic, presenting a conceptual analysis of power, and suggesting a framework for future research. Firstly, it is shown that only a few scholarly publications approach China’s power in a more comprehensive and conceptually rigorous way, and even these still contain spaces for improvement. It is argued that the main fault of the existing literature on China’s power is confusion surrounding the concept of power. For this reason, secondly, the article presents a conceptual analysis of power and it puts forward a comprehensive framework suitable for analytical use in international relations. In this place, the article argues that an exhaustive assessment of state power should contain an analysis of state’s intentions, its sources of power on (at least) three analytical levels, and outcomes of interactions. Thirdly, an analysis of Chinese policies in the South China Sea is offered as an example of applying the framework to a concrete issue. Finally, the article identifies further directions for researching China’s power and foreign policy using the presented model of power.

Journal: Journal of Chinese Political Science

Volume:  22

Issue: 3

Page Range: 473-486

DOI: 10.1007/s11366-017-9499-2