Engaging the Dragon Through Peaceful Deterrence: Japan’s Need to Recalibrate Its Strategy of Accommodation with China

“Engaging the Dragon Through Peaceful Deterrence: Japan’s Need to Recalibrate Its Strategy of Accommodation with China” by Kapok Tree Diplomacy

© Kapok Tree Diplomacy. Oct 2012. All rights reserved. Jeff Dwiggins. 


Theoretical Framework

The grand strategies and values of Japan and China will be evaluated from a “Balance of Threat” and “Defensive Realism” theoretical framework.  This essay posits that given China’s rise and Japan’s moment of opportunity to counter, it is important to gauge the feasibility of a values-based concert of democracies within this theoretical framework. Stephen Walt argues that states tend to balance or bandwagon with a rising power depending on their assessment of the perceived threat.[1] Japan’s past, present and future behavior towards China is thus assessed within the parameters of defensive realism which point to Japanese formation of strategic alliances to deal with the anarchy and security dilemma that characterize the international system and create uncertainty of intentions and inadvertent mistrust and conflict.[2]


Essay Structure

The essay consists of four major sections.  The first section covers China after a brief explanation of grand strategy, and the second section covers Japan. Each of these sections is broken down into five sub-sections: Grand Strategy, Values, Defense, Diplomacy and Development. The third section is an analysis that compares and contrasts the competing strategies in terms of the four sub-section topics.  It includes recommendations for Japan based on the analysis. The final section is a short conclusion.

Grand Strategy

In order to assess China and Japan’s grand strategies in terms of the current global and regional conditions it faces, one must first delve into what exactly a grand strategy is and why it’s important.  Robert J. Art indicates that a grand strategy “tells a nation’s leaders what goals they should aim for and how best they can use their country’s military power to attain those goals.”[3] The goals are essentially the national interests.  Nuechterlein divides national interests into fundamental, strategic, and private interests, and delineates them by intensity via the categories of survival, vital, major and peripheral.[4] This essay is primarily concerned with the core fundamental interests of security/survival, economic well-being and values. Strategic interests are discussed to the extent that they help achieve the core interests and a preferable world order.

I.       China

China’s Grand Strategy

From China’s imperial dynasties until the present day era of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and except for a brief period of 1842-1949, sometimes called the “period of national humiliation,” one can ascertain some common themes and objectives in China’s grand strategy.[5] Swaine and Tellis identify them as the following: (1) Protect and defend national sovereignty and peripheral borders; (2) safeguard and promote internal order and political cohesion; (3) sustain and perpetuate China’s power, influence and peaceful rise within the international order.[6]

Brigadier Subrata Saha notes that China has implemented its grand strategy using a policy of “active defense” with a combination of coercive and noncoercive methods depending on the issue, its own strength and that of its neighbors and other major powers.[7] Saha adds that guanxi, the concept of a “reciprocal” and “harmonius world” achieved through layers of “balanced interactions [amongst states]” as well as Confucian and Sun Tzu principles also drive the strategy. [8]  Swaine and Tellis describe this as a “calculative strategy” that compels China to keep a low profile and cultivate support for its policies while quietly expanding its capabilities. [9]

·    Complete essay is 5,522 words; 21 pages double-spaced; 45 references

Table of Contents – Engaging the Dragon

I.    Introduction

A.   Topic

B.   Purpose Statement and Hypothesis

C.   Theoretical Framework

1.   Background

2.   Essay Structure

D.   Grand Strategy

II.  China

A.   China’s Grand Strategy

B.   China’s Values

C.   China’s Defense Strategy

D.   China’s Diplomacy Strategy

E.   China’s Development Strategy

III.  Japan

A.   Japan’s Grand Strategy  

B.   Japan’s Values 

C.   Japan’s Defense Strategy  

D.   Japan’s Diplomacy Strategy 

E.   Japan’s Development Strategy

IV.  Analysis and Recommendations – Engaging the Dragon Through Peaceful Deterrence

A.   Clash of Values

B.   Defense

C.   Diplomacy

D.   Development

V.   Conclusion

The posts, views and opinions expressed in this paper are completely my own and do not represent the views or opinions of the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of the Navy (DON) or any of the Armed Forces.

[1]Walt, Stephen M. Alliance Formation and the Balance of World Power. Vol. 9. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1985, 3-4, (accessed October 20, 2012), http://www.christophrohde.de/waltallianceformationandbop1985.pdf.

[2] Taliaferro, Jeffrey W. Security Seeking Under Anarchy. Vol. 25. Cambridge, MA: International Security thru The President and Fellows of Harvard College and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Winter 2000/2001, 1-2, EBSCO Suite, (accessed October 20, 2012).

[3] Art, Robert J. A Grand Strategy for America. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press and The Century Foundation, Inc., 2003, 1-2.

[4] Nuechterlein, Donald E. America Recommitted: A Superpower Assesses its Role in a Turbulent World. Second edition. Lexington, KY: University of Press of Kentucky, 2001, 15-20.

[5] Saha, Brigadier Subrata. China’s Grand Strategy: From Confucius to Contemporary. Carlisle Barracks, PA: United States Army War College, 2010, 2-10, (accessed October 20, 2012), http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA518303.

[6] Swaine, Michael D. and Ashley J. Tellis. “Interpreting China’s Grand Strategy.” Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2000, 1-2, (accessed October 20, 2012), http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1121/mr1121.ch3.pdf.

[7] Saha, China’s Grand Strategy: From Confucius to Contemporary, 3.

[8]Ibid., 3.

[9] Swaine and Tellis, Interpreting China’s Grand Strategy, 1-2.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: