Speaker: Ketian Zhang, Research Fellow, International Security Program

Since 1990, China has used coercion for maritime territorial disputes, foreign arms sales to Taiwan, and foreign leaders' reception of the Dalai Lama, despite adverse implications for its international image. China is also curiously selective in the timing, target, and tools of coercion: most cases of Chinese coercion are not militarized, nor does China coerce all states that challenge its national security. Understanding China's coercion is critical for predicting a rising China's trajectory and crucial for devising policies to deter future Chinese aggression. The speaker's dissertation therefore examines when, why, and how China coerces states over national security issues. The speaker will explain Chinese coercion with the cost balancing theory and employ qualitative methods, utilizing primary Chinese documents and interviews with officials and diplomats. By creating a novel dataset of Chinese coercion, the dissertation project analyzes the macro trends of Chinese coercion while conducting case studies.

This seminar will zoom in on the temporal trends of Chinese coercion in the South China Sea as well as on one case, the 2012 Scarborough incident between China and the Philippines. Contrary to conventional wisdom and in contrast with historical rising powers, China is a cautious bully, coerces selectively, and uses military coercion less when it becomes stronger. The speaker identifies the centrality of reputation for resolve and economic vulnerability in states' calculation. States coerce one target to deter others — "killing the chicken to scare the monkey."

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

For more information, email the International Security Program Assistant at susan_lynch@harvard.edu.