Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Regime Insecurity and International Cooperation: Explaining China's Compromises in Territorial Disputes

    Author:
  • M. Taylor Fravel
| Fall 2005

Abstract

Since the 1995–96 Taiwan Strait crisis, scholars and policymakers have become increasingly concerned about China’s territorial ambitions. Yet China has also used peaceful means to manage conflicts, settling seventeen of its twenty-three territorial disputes, often with substantial compromises. This article develops a counterintuitive argument about the effects of domestic conflict on foreign policy to explain China’s behavior. Contrary to the diversionary war hypothesis, this argument posits that state leaders are more likely to compromise in territorial disputes when confronting internal threats to regime security, including rebellions and legitimacy crises. Regime insecurity best explains China’s pattern of compromise and delay in its territorial disputes. China’s leaders have compromised when faced with internal threats to regime security, including the revolt in Tibet, the instability following the Great Leap Forward, the legitimacy crisis after the Tiananmen upheaval, and separatist violence in Xinjiang.

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For Academic Citation: Fravel, M. Taylor. Regime Insecurity and International Cooperation: Explaining China's Compromises in Territorial Disputes.” Quarterly Journal: International Security, vol. 30. no. 2. (Fall 2005):
46-83
.

The Author