Contradiction of Strategic Goals as a Major Constrain of Chinese Power in the South China Sea

  • Richard Q. TurcsányiEmail author
Part of the Global Power Shift book series (GLOBAL)


This chapter analytically connects theoretical works on power in international politics with the conflict development in the South China Sea (SCS) from the Chinese perspective. Power will be defined as a capability of an actor to achieve and/or sustain a desired situation and it will be understood as a fluid and issue-specific ability. Due to this nature of power, it is impossible to chart a general power ranking of states. On the other hand, it is possible to discuss various sources of power with regards of specific policy-issues, how these power sources influence strategies actors take and outcomes of their interactions. China’s ‘desired situation’ will be understood in line with (former Chinese State Councilor) Dai Bingguo’s three core interests of preserving political system, territorial integrity, and sustained development. While the regime security will be regarded as the final interest of the Chinese government, two further ‘core interests’ supporting it would translate into two concrete goals in the SCS—safeguarding the sovereignty as perceived by Chinese public, and sustaining vital economic partnerships with international partners. Chinese policies and their outcomes will be interpreted as successes/failures against the proposed goals and it will be discussed in the conclusion what sources of power have brought them about. It will be argued that the fundamental constrain of Chinese actions in the SCS is the inherent contradiction between its desired goals, as the protecting the territorial integrity is causing anti-Chinese sentiments and potentially threatens economic interactions and development of the country.


China’s power Power in international relations Chinese national interest Chinese strategy China foreign policy in South China Sea 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Social StudiesMasaryk UniversityBrnoCzech Republic

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