US-China Relations in the 21st Century: Power Transition and Peace

By Harris, Stuart | The China Journal, January 2007 | Go to article overview

US-China Relations in the 21st Century: Power Transition and Peace


Harris, Stuart, The China Journal


US-China Relations in the 21st Century: Power Transition and Peace, by Zhiqin Zhu. London: Routledge, 2006. xii + 226 pp. £65.00 (hardcover).

From Thucydides through Toynbee and Gilpin to Mearsheimer, scholars of international relations have long been concerned with the problem of the transition of power between existing hegemons and aspiring powers. Interest in this problem has come to the forefront again with the emergence of China as a great power that potentially could challenge the US. Whether one accepts China's view of its "peaceful rise" or the views of some realists in the US and elsewhere of a "China threat" is of more than just academic interest; E. H. Carr considered that how to establish peaceful change was the fundamental problem of international morality and international politics.

Debate continues over what the crucial factors are in determining how the transition to a new relationship between China and the US will take place. For the realists, the shift in the power structure is enough to impose substantial strains while, for others, the world has changed from one where the distribution of power largely determined outcomes to where structural changes are only part of the story; other factors such as globalization, interdependence, the relative decline in utility of military against other sources of power, and a recognition of the great costs for states involved in conflicts become determining. Moreover, the question of what is more important, capabilities or intentions, remains open as does the question of what influences intentions and how they might change over time.

There have been many attempts to draw lessons from history, whether from the "causes of war" perspective or from the particular experiences of recent power transitions. Germany and Britain at the start of the last century and the rise of Japan later in that century have been given particular attention in China, where for many these have been seen as examples pointing to the defeat of the aspiring power when it challenged the status quo. Zhu applies the lessons from the rise and fall of past great powers to China's rise. He asks a fundamental question: can the US and China manage a potential power transition peacefully?

His starting point is Organski's power transition theory. Organski stresses the importance of élite thinking and attitudes but Zhu, judging power transition theory to be unduly structural, links it with Waltz's three images, providing a wider decision-making environment beyond power structures and the élites. In particular, Zhu's framework brings in domestic, societal and individual factors. His basic proposition is that a peaceful transition will occur when there are positive evaluations of the bilateral relationship by governments, publics and élites in the two countries, operating within a friendly international system. This is a rather demanding set of criteria to meet but he develops his arguments around each of them carefully.

Beginning with a general review of the history of power transitions, Zhu examines three case studies in detail: British-German relations between 1871 and 1914; Anglo-American relations from 1865 to 1945, both of which he sees as largely supporting his hypothesis, one negatively and one positively; and the China-US relationship between 1990 and 2005 which he judges as also supportive positively but recognises it as still a work in progress.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

US-China Relations in the 21st Century: Power Transition and Peace
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.