Q & A with Jincui Zhang, CISSM Visiting Scholar

April 18, 2016

Earlier this semester, CISSM welcomed visiting scholar, Jincui Zhang, an associate professor of International Relations at the School of Social Sciences, Shanghai University. She is also a Fellow of the Center for Global Studies of Shanghai University. Dr. Zhang will be visiting the school until the end of 2016. CISSM sat down with Dr. Zhang to learn about her research interests and her plans for her year at the school.

Q: Your book, U.S. Military Sanctions against China: from Defending "Human Rights" to Preventing "Threat", was awarded one of “Ten Choice Books in International Relations in 2011.” What do you see as the major contribution of your book to the discipline?

My book was the first to discuss the U.S. military sanctions that were imposed on China after the 1989 June Fourth Incident in Tiananmen Square. After the June Fourth Incident, the U.S. imposed a series of military sanctions on China, including the suspension of the sale of military equipment and weapons to China, exports of U.S.-built satellites to China, nuclear trade and cooperation, and the easing of export controls on technology by COCOM. The book utilizes the rational actor and inter-branch politics models to examine the evolution of U.S. military sanctions against China from 1989 through 2008. It also looks at how each U.S. administration has used the military sanctions, as well as how they have changed at different stages within administrations.

Q: Your biography notes much of your recent work has centered on disputes over transnational rivers between China and India. Can you please describe some of your findings through this work?

The disputes over transnational rivers between China and India have roots in the development of the two countries, the bilateral relationship, and broader regional geopolitics. Both countries face water shortages, which are compounded by the fact that they are the world’s two most populous countries and both are emerging economies with high demand for water. Territorial disputes between the countries are treated as a zero-sum game. Also, the countries lack mutual strategic trust for a number of reasons, including an old grudge based on the China-India border war in 1962.

Another important aspect is the treatment of the Tibetan Plateau, the largest perennial ice mass on the planet after the Arctic and Antarctic and also the headwaters for most of the large rivers in Asia. The rivers flowing out of the Tibetan Plateau include the main rivers of China, Southeast Asia, and South Asia. India's main rivers all originate on the Tibetan Plateau. Furthermore the Tibet Plateau has distinctive features in geography and ecology. Hence, avoiding building big dams, hydropower stations, and other projects and conserving the biodiversity of the Tibetan Plateau is not only an issue for China, but also for the region and the world.

In short, China and India are neighboring countries with emerging economies and a limited amount of water available through shared transnational rivers. The disputes over the water from these rivers do not only affect the bilateral relationship but also the peace and stability of the whole region.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your time at the University of Maryland and CISSM?

While at the University of Maryland and CISSM, I hope to broaden my horizons by attending classes and other academic activities. I also look forward to taking advantage of the resources available at the school, as well as the expertise of the scholars at CISSM. Beyond my studies, I hope to have the opportunity to explore and experience American culture and society, which I have only read about it previously.