Jun Xiang, Christopher B. Primiano, Wei-hao Huang
June 9, 2015
The recent years have witnessed a heated debate on China’s rise. Using various theoretical arguments, existing research has generated quite divergent conclusions on whether China rises peacefully. Liberals argue that China has significantly benefited from the existing international economic system and therefore China is rising peacefully. On the other hand, realists such as John Mearsheimer argue that because China is likely to challenge the status quo, a rising China poses a threat to international security. Surprisingly, despite the ample scholarship on this topic and the existing divergent conclusions, a large-N empirical evaluation of China’s rise is missing in the existing research. This study fills this important gap by providing a large-N empirical investigation of militarized interstate disputes between China and other states from 1979 to 2010. We find that although China’s GDP, military spending, and CINC score have increased remarkably since the start of its economic reform, no empirical evidence points to more conflicts between China and other states. Furthermore, trade exerts only a weak effect on China’s conflict, a surprising yet interesting finding that revises the conventional wisdom in the literature.