The gateway to a social analysis : diplomatic crises in post-Cold war Sino-US relations
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Following the end of the Cold War and the political fall-out from the Tiananmen incident, the US and China ended the last century and began the new one with three well publicised fall outs: the 1995-96 Taiwan Straits Crisis, the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999, and the Spy Plane Incident in 2001. In each of these incidents the two states immediately resorted to confrontation and animosity before shifting towards a peaceful resolution. How did these transformations become possible? How did this relationship plunge towards confrontation over three apparent accidents? What factors were shaping these events and the main actor’s behaviour? This thesis provides an alternative framework for analysing these interactions; one that takes into account dynamics other than those emphasised in neo-utilitarian approaches to IR. Emphasising social dynamics, I ask a series of ‘how possible’ questions so as to lend insight into the processes of change that have taken place. I examine each case in detail and develop an argument that focuses upon investigating how the situations arose, how meaning was constructed and renegotiated, how identities were produced, and how emotional dynamics were drawn upon. Chapter One introduces the puzzles that this thesis will be addressing before setting out the conceptual focus of the research. Chapter Two provides a theoretical discussion relating to the current literature surrounding US-Chinese relations, before setting out the theoretical assumptions and methodological tools that I employ. Chapters Three, Four and Five represent the empirical ‘heart’ of the thesis, with each providing detailed analysis of the interaction in question. To finish, Chapter Six highlights the themes that have emerged over the course of the empirical investigations, before concluding with a discussion relating to the contribution to the literature and possible avenues of future research.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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