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CISSM Global Forum | China's Gambit: The Calculus of Coercion

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Picture of China and US with event speaker on the side.

Dr. Ketian Zhang, Assistant Professor of International Security in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University.

Registration for this event is not required but is appreciated (for planning purposes).

Event Description

Emerging from an award-winning article in International Security, China's Gambit (Cambridge University Press, 2024) examines when, why and how China attempts to coerce states over perceived threats to its national security. Since 1990, China has used coercion for territorial disputes and issues related to Taiwan and Tibet, yet China is curiously selective in the timing, target and tools of coercion. This book offers a new and generalizable cost-balancing theory to explain states' coercion decisions. It demonstrates that China does not coerce frequently and uses military coercion less when it becomes stronger, resorting primarily to non-militarized tools. Leveraging rich empirical evidence, including primary Chinese documents and interviews with Chinese and foreign officials, this book explains how contemporary rising powers translate their power into influence and offers a new framework for explaining states' coercion decisions in an era of economic interdependence, particularly how contemporary global economic interdependence affects rising powers' foreign security policies.

Book link here.

Speaker Bio

Ketian Vivian Zhang is an assistant professor of international security in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. She studies rising powers, coercion, economic statecraft, and maritime disputes in international relations and social movements in comparative politics, with a regional focus on China and East Asia. Zhang bridges the study of international relations and comparative politics and has a broader theoretical interest in linking international security and international political economy. Her book with Cambridge University Press, examines, when, why and how China uses coercion when faced with issues of national security, such as territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas, foreign arms sales to Taiwan and foreign leaders’ reception of the Dalai Lama. Part of her research has appeared in International Security, Journal of Strategic Studies and Journal of Contemporary China among other venues. Ketian received her PhD in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2018 and is also a proud University of Wisconsin Badger.

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