Asia brown bag lecture: Kai He

NIAS and ADI invite you to a brown bag lecture by Kai He, Associate Professor at the Dept. of Political Science.

China’s Crisis Behavior: Political Survival and Foreign Policy after the Cold War

Since the end of the Cold War, China has experienced several notable interstate crises with other countries, such as the 1995/6 Taiwan Strait crisis, the 1999 “embassy bombing” incident, and the 2001 EP-3 mid-air collision incident with the United States, the 2012 Scarborough shoal crisis with the Philippines, and the longtime Diaoyu/Senkaku dispute with Japan. However, China’s behavioral patterns varied from case to case. In some instances, China escalated crises while in others China retreated or de-escalated crises.

The major purpose of the project is to explore patterns of China’s foreign policy crisis behavior after the Cold War, i.e., when and under what conditions will Chinese leaders take risks to escalate a foreign policy crisis and when will Chinese leaders avoid risks and deescalate a crisis?

Inspired by both neoclassical realism and prospect theory—a Nobel-Prize-winning behavioral psychology theory, Kai He introduces a “political survival-prospect” model to explain the variations of China’s crisis behavior. He argues that China’s crisis behavior is a function of Chinese top leaders’ calculations or prospects of their “political survival” status, which is shaped by three factors: the severity of the crisis, leaders’ domestic authority, and international pressure. When Chinese leaders enjoy the prospect of a surplus of political survival during a foreign policy crisis, they are more likely to de-escalate the crisis, i.e., to choose a risk-averse decision to avoid more troubles. If they face the prospect of a deficit of political survival, they are more likely to escalate the crisis, i.e., to take a risk-acceptant policy to reverse the disadvantageous situation.

Kai He joined the Department of Political Science in 2014. His research interests include international relations theory, international security, foreign policy analysis, international political economy, public opinion, foreign policy crisis behavior, great power politics, Asian security and politics, Chinese politics and international relations, Sino-US relations, and social science research methods.

Time: 18 February, 12:00-13:00
Place: NIAS, CSS, room 18.1.08

Feel free to bring your own lunch. There will be coffee/tea.