Summary Statement of Current Research
My current research builds off of my dissertation entitled Status, Security, and Socialization: Explaining Change in China's Compliance in International Institutions. This research project considers why and how status-seeking states comply with international norms in multilateral security regimes and the conditions under which they are more or less likely to take on such self-constraining commitments. In particular, I argue that China’s quest for great power identity does not necessarily disrupt the status quo, as traditional balance of power theorists and power transition proponents argue. In fact, seeking social acceptance from its peers requires China to comply with established and universally accepted norms, rather than rejecting and overturning them.
My research builds upon and moves beyond the current IR literature by examining why status and identity are important motivations for socialization dynamics. I identify and test the scope conditions under which Chinese decisionmakers’ exposure to global norms and engagement with foreign counterparts have evolved and ranged from strategic adaptation to an understanding that cooperative, multilateral security is a preferred source of state security, particularly in such security issues as: (1) UN peacekeeping operations and post-conflict reconstruction; (2) conventional arms and export controls; and (3) sensitive negotiations over disputed territorial claims in the South China Sea.
As part of my field work, I received a number of external grants from such organizations as the United States Institute of Peace, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Counter-Proliferation Programme, and the Open Society Institute to carry out data collection, content analysis of primary and secondary sources in Chinese and English, archival work, research interviews with policy elites, and focus group meetings in China, Africa, and Europe. The theoretical, empirical, and policy lessons drawn from this research shed important insights into what has worked in the past, what has not, and what is likely to work in the future in drawing China closer to assuming the role of a responsible, major power.
Sunrise in the Big Red and a view of the Central Business District in Beijing.
Areas of Interest
international relations, comparative politics, foreign policy analysis, China, Asia-Pacific
Mai'a K. Davis Cross, Patrick James, David C. Kang (chair)