Strategic Culture and China: IR Theory Versus the Fortune Cookie?   [open pdf - 64KB]

"For once Sinologists have become innovators in political science, at least on the subject of strategic culture. Iain Johnston published his pioneering work Cultural Realism: Strategic Culture and Grand Strategy in Chinese History in 1995 to much fanfare and acclaim. Since then other works have utilized the strategic culture approach, including this writers Chinas Use of Military Force: Beyond the Great Wall and the Long March published in 2003. There are also a significant number of volumes, journal articles, and book chapters focused on China that invoke the term but do not deal with the concept in any depth. Now, a decade after Johnstons seminal volume, it seems an appropriate point in time to take stock of how far we have come in strategic culture scholarship as a whole and in the field of Chinese security studies in particular. This paper will argue that while significant progress has been made on both counts, developments have not fulfilled the promise of Johnstons path breaking work: First, this paper identifies a major challenge confronting the strategy culture approach. Second, it suggests the key areas in which strategic culture studies of China have advanced the field as a whole. Third, the paper outlines key China-specific areas in which strategic culture studies of the Central Kingdom have made significant advances. Finally, the paper suggests possible fruitful avenues for future research."

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Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Contemporary Conflict: http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil
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Strategic Insights (October 2005), v.4 no.10
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