China’s Rise: Offensive or Defensive Realism

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Abstract

China’s rise has been the greatest development of the 21st century. It has emerged as the second largest economy in the world, a country with a modern army and nuclear weapons. China’s rise has come to be seen as a major threat by the West and especially the US. Most scholarly debates predict that it will lead to a conflict between China and the US. Set in this context, this paper takes John Mearsheimer’s theory of offensive realism, which predicts intense competition and conflict between China and the US and examines China’s behaviour as a rising power against it. The paper finds that far from being an aggressive, hegemonic and a revisionist state, China is a status quo power that aims to preserve its position in the international system rather than upset it. The paper argues that China’s behaviour displays elements of defensive rather than offensive realism.

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