Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Public Affairs/International Relations

First Advisor

Paul A. Kowert

Second Advisor

J. Samuel Barkin

Third Advisor

Shuai Jin


With China’s rise, international relations (IR) scholars are in need of an intellectual framework to understand Chinese policymakers’ worldview, particularly their vision for a modern Asian regional system. Accordingly, this thesis examines the relevance of several prominent themes in contemporary Chinese IR scholarship to Chinese policy elites’ strategic thinking through a careful textual study of Chinese officials’ speeches. This discursive analysis reveals that although Chinese leaders have mainly used mainstream Western IR theories to explain their worldview in Asia, they also appear to be making a transition from the predominant application of mainstream Western IR theories to the localization of their own IR concepts applied to Chinese foreign policy making. In particular, Chinese officials have increasingly applied the concepts of relationality, morality, and world-ness in their diplomatic statements. This analysis sheds light on common misperceptions of Western scholars, and particularly US policymakers, about China. These misconceptions interfere with an understanding of China’s worldview, and as a result they also lead to problematic policy recommendations for US policymakers and Asian states.


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