America new China policy : the hedgagement approach

  • Cheong Wai YUEN

Student thesis: MPhil Thesis (Lingnan)


In the past few decades, the rise of China has shifted the political landscape in the Asia Pacific region. China has succeeded in economic development since the reform in 1979. It is transforming its growing economic strength into military power by substantially increasing military expenditure. According to the estimation of Global Trends 2025, by 2025 China will be the second largest economic and military power if current trend persists. The emergence of China has inevitably altered its international role when it is becoming the great power. With increasing economic interdependence and the anti-terrorism, the Sino-U.S. relations have become more complicated than ever before. On one hand, China has been an economic cooperator of the United States. The United States is calling for further economic cooperation between them, especially after the outbreak of Financial Tsunami. On the other hand, China is simultaneously the potential competitor. The United States is misgiving about overtaking from China in the 21st century. It worries the rise of China will constitute the same type of security threat to it that Germany did to Britain in the two World Wars. To respond the rise of China, Joseph Nye remarked that the development of Indo-U.S. strategic ties would be able to dissuade the future ambition of China and thus encourage China to be a “responsible stakeholder” in the international system.

The objectives of this research are to identify the nature of the current China policy towards the U.S. and the feasibility of this strategy. To understand the current China policy it is crucial that we understand how the United States has coped with the rise of China. In order to test the current nature of Chinese policy, it will be necessary to compare the engagement and containment policy. The United States is implementing a two-pronged policy towards China that combines “engagement” and “hedging”. The term “engagement” means integrating China into the existing international system through economic cooperation and institutionalization. The term “hedging” means preserving enough dissuasive power to prevent the emergence of aggressive China in future. The strategic goal of this policy is to engage China while dissuading it from challenging the United States militarily in future. However, until now, there is still a question over how does the United States cope with the rise of China as the essence of U.S. two-pronged policy is still uncertainty. The controversy is whether the branch of hedging equals to the containment or not. To analyze the essence of U.S. hedging policy, this policy will be compared with U.S. containment policy towards the Soviet Union during the Cold War era as well as U.S. foreign policy towards other rising powers, such as India and Brazil. Then, India will be used as a case study in order to test the feasibility of U.S. two-pronged foreign policy toward China.
Date of Award2009
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Political Science
SupervisorPaul Gordon HARRIS (Supervisor) & Baohui ZHANG (Supervisor)

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