The Trials of Rivalry: Sino-Japanese Relations since the 1910s
This dissertation asks a challenging question: how can we explain the origination and, more importantly, the intensification of Sino-Japanese rivalry? It elucidates what led to rivalry between China and Japan in the first place and what causes the variance in the intensity of their rivalry by examining factors based on realism, constructivism, and the rivalry approach. It shows that the shift in dyadic power distribution, a much more long-term and relatively static factor, initiates rivalry in the case of Sino-Japanese relations. In addition, nationalism with a malignant aspect (offensive goal) and/or alliance dynamics with specific characteristics (targeting the rival outside the alliance) can influence the intensity of the rivalry. This dissertation examines the effects of the interplay between these causal factors in initiating and intensifying Sino-Japanese from the 1910s until 2016. The hypothesis of rivalry origination is tested by investigating Japan’s continual rise in the 1910s, China’s ascendancy in the 1990s, and China’s persistent rise in the 2000s. I find that a shift in power distribution between China and Japan is closely associated with the development of their rivalry, as either rising China or Japan will expand its activities and interests outward, leading to conflicts of interest between them. Rivalries between them are found in the case of Shandong and Manchuria/Mongolia in the 1910s-30s, the East China Sea in the 1990s-2000s, and the East and South China Seas in the 2010s. Regarding variance in rivalry intensity, the empirical findings demonstrate that nationalism with an offensive goal, such as those appearing in 1920s-30s Japan and in 2010s China, leads to a dangerous rivalry escalation when it emerges in the context of a dyadic power shift. Lastly, the investigations into the Sino-Soviet alliance in the 1920s-30s and the U.S.-Japan alliance from the end of the World War II until 2016 reveal that the alliances considerably contributed to increased hostility when they were directed against either of the rivalry dyad. In contrast, nationalism and alliances without the aforementioned characteristics, or those that did not occur in the context of a power shift, are not primary causes of rivalry intensification, but they can help to create an environment conducive to it. I reach the conclusion that the Sino-Japanese rivalry since the beginning of the 2010s may be escalating dangerously, given the role of offensive nationalism in China and the incipient development of such nationalism in Japan, coupled with the change in the nature of the U.S.-Japan alliance that continues to promote Japan’s growing military power in an attempt to contain China.
Advisor: Nel, Philip; Khoo, Nicholas
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Department of Politics
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: rivalry; Sino-Japanese Relations; East Asia; Security; China; Japan; Japanese Foreign Policy; Chinese Foreign Policy; Power Shift; Nationalism; identity; Change in Balance of Power; Alliance; Distribution of Power; China's Rise; Japan's Rise
Research Type: Thesis