Reconstruction: Assessing ‘Demolition Man’ two decades after Deng Xiaoping’s death

In early 1997, Deng Xiaoping, the greatest of New China’s leaders, died. As Robert MacFarquhar wrote a month later in his definitive obituary of the diminutive man, while Deng’s colleagues would “eulogize him as the ‘chief architect’ of China’s reform program and it’s opening to the outside world,” the reality of Deng’s leadership was quite different. He was, MacFarquhar wrote, a “demolition man,” one who “deconstructed the China he took over: not the traditional China of Confucian values and Taoist cults”—for, indeed, he’d already helped Mao Zedong destroy that one—“but the China of Communist principles and practices.”[1] When Deng died, however, that demolition was incomplete; the remnant structures of Communist China that loomed over the Middle Kingdom still half intact seemed to MacFarquhar twisted, dangerous, and deep-rooted domestically as China entered a new age at the dawn of the 21st century. Now, more than 20 years after the death of MacFarquhar’s demolition man, it is worth revisiting the “myriad domestic problems” faced by the China Deng had left behind, problems MacFarquhar hinted might bring down the People’s Republic “dinosaur” as the country lurched toward “the end of history.”

1) Decentralization

MacFarquhar wrote that, if the central leadership was unable to maintain unity and authority, unrest in the periphery among minority groups might erupt. Erupt the peripheries have. Ethnic tensions have remained roiling in Xinjiang Province since the 1997 article, boiling over on occasion in the form of riots in the provincial capital Urumqi in 2009 and numerous terrorist attacks both inside and outside the province. The most infamous, a mass stabbing in Kunming Railway Station blamed on ethnic Ugyhur persons, left 35 dead and 143 wounded.[2] Decentralization, for the moment at least, is a word of the past, however, as the Chinese Communist Party’s response has shown. As of early 2020, some hundreds of thousands, if not more, ethnic Ughyurs have been detained in mass re-education prison camps throughout the region, draconian measures that seem to have their roots in the de-centralized experimentalist repression of Tibetans on the plateau.[3] Books that MacFarquhar said “celebrate localism or provincial chauvinism” have been replaced with Chairman Xi Jinping’s The Governance of China on the shelves of Beijing bookstores.[4]  The central authorities seem to have brought the restive provinces to heel, at least when it comes to national security, and the specter of decentralization has been banished, for now.

2) Cultural Anarchy

“China’s writers, artists, pop singers and film-makers are difficult to rein in,” MacFarquhar wrote. Alas, they have proven less resilient. The increasing sophistication and authoritarianism of China’s police state under Chairman Xi has seen the virtual—and sometimes literal—disappearance of cultural dissent, its tendrils reaching even so far these days as Hong Kong, where dissident booksellers were kidnapped by regime thugs in 2015.[5] Artists, filmmakers, and journalists face even more intense censorship and repression in the PRC proper. Christianity and religious cults, MacFarquhar’s other agents of cultural anarchy, have been met with a similar welcome in recent years.[6] While some still fret about the Party’s spiritual vacuum, Party leaders are attempting to fill it with a mix of neo-Confucianism, Xi Jinping’s “China Dream,” and a healthy dose of nationalism backed by authoritarianism.[7] Order has been imposed on anarchy.

3) Crime and migrant labor

MacFarquhar’s section on crime and migrant labor could very well be written today. And now, as in then, he would be overestimating their effects. China’s crime rate is notoriously difficult to gauge, untrustworthy are its official crime statistics.[8] Officially, the PRC’s murder rate, for example, is among the lowest in the world, less than 1 per 100,000 people.[9] Even if that rate were double, it would still rate lower than France; triple, about the same as Canada. Crime may be at levels that MacFarquar writes “earlier Communist governments would have considered unacceptable”—a strange metric by which to judge post-Deng China, anyway—but even if the actual crime rate is much, much higher than officially reported, most Chinese citizens have little to worry about, in reality. That crimes are blamed on migrant laborers—and that transient young men are responsible for some significant measure of crime in China—does however points to underlying fissures in Chinese society.[10]

In 1997, MacFarquhar noted that as much as 10 percent of China’s population worked as itinerant laborers in China’s massive cities; today that number is likely closer to 30 percent of the entire working population.[11] The increase in migrant labor is indicative of the uneven development that has occurred as China’s costal commercial cities have grown—and grown rich—while the much poorer interior and hinterlands languish and shrink. China has become a country of a few very rich and many still very poor.[12] That inequality may itself congeal into its own locus for discontent. But for now, the existence of migrant labor points instead to growing prosperity. Migrants are migrating for the economic opportunities that continue to develop in and around China’s eastern cities. The growth of illegal migrant communities is a challenge for municipal governance, and the occasional clearing efforts that take place on the margins of China’s biggest cities continue more than 20 years after MacFarquhar noted them. Migrant communities also create opportunities for civil unrest among a maligned, maltreated, and malcontented population being left behind by urban development. But the existence of migrant laborers in 2020 is more mere management challenge than a dire threat to the CCP.

4) Unemployment and unrest

If migrant workers are not a major problem, MacFarquar is right to argue that migrant non-workers very well could be. China’s economy continued to enjoy astounding growth in the decades following MacFarquhar’s article, but that growth is slowing. Due to the coronavirus outbreak this year, for first time in half a century China’s economy shrank in the first quarter.[13] While the pandemic is an anomaly, the slowing economy is not, and there could be difficulties ahead for the CCP if China’s economy stalls.

Although official numbers out of Beijing have put unemployment between 4 and 5 percent over the last few decades, just as in1997, those numbers are likely at least double according to many estimates.[14] Labor protests have also been on the rise as workers feel Xi’s “China Dream” slipping out of their grasps.[15] China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based labor advocacy group, recorded nearly 1,400 labor disputes in 2019, less than the at least 1,700 of 2018, but the numbers have persistently remained above 1,300 per year since they spiked in 2015.[16] The titanic efforts of the Chinese government to keep workers employed during the coronavirus shutdown, meanwhile, should be an indication of just how seriously party leadership takes the threat of unemployment.[17] Widespread unemployment would likely shake the foundations of China’s party-state, which has implicitly promised economic growth and stability in return for power. Although China has made some progress reforming its hulking State-Owned Enterprises,[18] unless China can find other ways to re-rev its economic engine, the potentially existential challenges of unemployment and unrest will only grow in scale. MacFarquhar’s forecast was postponed in 1997 by economic growth, but instability caused by unemployment and economic inefficiency may return with a vengeance.

5) Corruption

When Xi took leadership of China in 2012, he would have agreed with MacFarquhar’s diagnosis that in China “corruption is now prevalent at all levels, and to an extraordinary degree.” Eight years later, that may no longer be so true; millions of “tigers and flies” have been snapped up by Xi’s anti-corruption campaign. Although it remains difficult to untangle the targeting of political rivals from real anti-corruption efforts, more than 1.5 million party officials have been disciplined by Wang Qishan and the CCP’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.[19] The result has been wide public praise, a less corrupt party-bureaucracy-business apparatus, and consolidated central control for Xi. While the longer-term effects of the anti-corruption drive remain to be seen (they have not, after all, much targeted Xi’s friends and allies), prosecutions of top officials and oligarchs continue. It seems likely that the party has cleaned out a least some of the rot that settled into the party infrastructure as China grew richer.

6) The military

The entrenched People’s Liberation Army has not escaped the anti-corrupt drive unscathed. Dozens of top generals and even some as high as Fang Fenghui, former military chief of staff, are now behind bars—something that seemed unthinkable in past administrations.[20] Corruption investigations have only been one piece of a sustained effort by Xi to reorganize the PLA and consolidate his control over it. Parallel to the anti-corruption drive, Xi also set out to reshuffle the PLA’s structure, to make it leaner, more responsive, and perhaps most importantly, more his own.[21] MacFarquhar noted that in any power struggle, the PLA chiefs would be decisive. Those chiefs now belong to Xi.

7) The secession

Secession issues never publicly materialized as Deng handed the party over to Jiang Zemin. Nor did they as Jiang handed it to Hu Jintao or Hu to Xi. For two decades after Deng, China was ruled by committee and consensus. That is no longer the case. The CCP abolished term limits in 2018, clearing the way for Xi Jinping to remain in power for life.[22] Whether that will happen—and what will come after— remain to be seen. Succession was not a problem in 1997, but it may be in 2022 or beyond.[23]


“Is the People’s Republic a dinosaur—large, powerful, but destined for extinction in some enormous catastrophe? Or can its leaders surf the democratic ‘third wave,’ bypass ‘the end of history,’ and avert the ‘grand failure.’ Is there something invincible about a twenty-century-old “oriental despotism,” which transformed itself into arguably the most thoroughly totalitarian system of the twentieth century, the nation of so-called ‘blue ants?’ Or was the Tiananmen massacre only a Pyrrhic victory as China’s convulsive process of modernization lurches toward the democratic denouement sought by Sun Yat-sen?” MacFaquhar asks these questions to close his essay. Given the challenges he poses at the end of “Demolition Man,” in the heady days of the end of history, it seems MacFaquhar thought he could guess the answer.

As it turns out, there may indeed be something invincible—at least in the near term—about the nation that has now certainly transformed itself into the most thoroughly totalitarian system of the 21st century. Worries of instability seem destined to plague the CCP, but it has, by any measure, taken firm hold of the domestic challenges MacFarquar thought might bring it down. In many ways, China seems to have learned lessons from the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, and not the ones MacFarquar thought it would. Xi Jinping’s China now rules the hinterlands, the artistic commons, the party infrastructure, and the military. Its economy is slowing, to be sure, but if there is anything that has been true about Deng’s China and the China that came after, it has been China’s ability to defy predictions.

History has returned, and the People’s Republic of China has not yet gone the way of the dinosaurs.

[1] Roderick MacFarquhar, “Demolition Man,” The New York Review of Books (Vol. 44, No. 5, March 27, 1997).
[2] Reuters, “China launches campaign to promote ethnic unity in violence-torn Xinjiang region,” (March 31, 2016).
[3] The Economist, “China’s successful repression in Tibet provides a model for Xinjiang,” (December 10, 2019).
[4] The Economist, “Xi Jinping’s new blockbuster is getting a hard sell,” (April 26, 2018).
[5] Alex Palmer, “The Case of Hong Kong’s Missing Booksellers: As Xi Jinping consolidates power, owners of Hong Kong bookstores trafficking in banned books find themselves playing a very dangerous game,” The New York Times (April 3, 2018).
[6] Nectar Gan, “Beijing plans to continue tightening grip on Christianity and Islam as China pushes ahead with the ‘Sinicisation of religion,’” The South China Morning Post (March 6, 2019).
[7] Amy Qin and Javier C. Hernandez, “How China’s Rulers Control Society: Opportunity, Nationalism, Fear,” The New York Times (November 25, 2018).
[8] Christopher Giles, “Reality Check: How safe is it to live in China,” BBC (January 13, 2019).
[9] The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, “Global Study on Homicide” (2013).
[10] Wang Huazhong, “Young migrants cause crime wave,” China Daily (Feb. 25, 2011).
[11] China Labour Bulletin “Migrant workers and their children,” (May 2019).
[12] Thomas Piketty, Li Yang, and Gabriel Zucman, “Income inequality is growing fast in China and making it look more like the US,” LSE Business Review (April 1, 2019).
[13] BBC, “China’s virus-hit economy shrinks for first time in decades,” (April 17, 2020).
[14] Christopher Balding, “Bad Jobs Data Could Bite China,” Bloomberg Opinion (Feb. 19, 2019).
[15] Javier C. Hernandez, “Workers’ Activism Rising as Economy Slows. Xi Aims to Rein them In,” The New York Times (Feb. 6, 2019)
[16] China Labour Bulletin, Strike Map (
[17] Laura He “China is really worried about unemployment. Here’s what it’s doing to avoid mass layoffs,” CNN Business (Jan. 13, 2020).
[18] Xi li and Kjeld Erik BrØdsgaard, “SOE Reform in China: Past, Present, and Future”, The Copenhagen Journal of East Asian Studies (Vol. 31, No. 2, May 2014).
[19] Andrew Gilholm, “Xi Jinping’s New Watchdog: An Ever More Powerful Anti-Corruption Tool,” Foreign Affairs (March 6, 2018).
[20] Chris Buckley and Steven Lee Myers, “Xi Jinping Presses Military Overhaul and Two Generals Disappear,” The New York Times (Oct. 11, 2017).
[21] Kenneth W. Allen, Dennis J. Blasko, John F. Corbett, Jr., “The PLA’s New Organizational Structure: What is known, unknown and speculation,” China Brief (Vol. 16, Issue 3, Feb. 2016).
[22] James Doubek, “China Removes Presidential Term Limits, Enabling Xi to Rule Indefinitely,” National Public Radio (March 11, 2018).
[23] Johnathon Brookfield, “China has New Leaders: What now?” The Diplomat (Oct. 31, 2017).


Explaining Korea’s Economic Miracle

To the American advisors stationed in Seoul in the late 1950s, the South Korea that limped out of the Korean War was strategically vital and otherwise hopeless. That South Korea was shattered and poor, its workforce reputedly lazy and its leadership corrupt. Development was an afterthought, content as it was to slurp from the turgid flows of American dollars that sloshed through the upper ranks of Syngman Rhee’s government. But today, the neon lights of Seoul advertise a different reality. Korean-made technology is renowned across the globe—things given shape by Korean steel, infused with Korean microprocessors, and delivered to market on Korean ships.

Korea is becoming a rich country. Its approximately $31,000 USD per capita GDP is about equal to that of Spain or Italy.[1] In the span of 50 years, Korea has gone from one of the world’s dimmest to one of the its shining stars. Its purchasing power parity of $280 USD in 1960 grew to $28,384 in 2010, riding a 50-year average GDP per capita growth rate of 9.52 percent.[2] In 1960, foreign trade amounted to $377 million; in 2013, it was $1,068 trillion, making little Korea the 11th largest trading nation in the world.[3] How can we explain that tremendous development? And might it have lessons for other developing countries mired in poverty and corruption as South Korea itself once was?

Maybe … and probably not. The set of policies pursued by South Korea from 1962 through the early 1980s first set up Korea for its developmental run and then enabled that growth. Those policies might be carefully replicated by developing nations hoping to follow in the footsteps of the Asian tiger. But blazing those policy paths required a set of unique circumstances both internally and externally that created the conditions for Korean growth and, often, supported it. Those circumstances owe their existence to Korea’s particular niche in the history of the 20th century.

So how did Korea get rich? The centerpiece of its developmental model was a concerted effort to create an export-driven economy under military junta Park Chung-Hee, who wrested control of Korea from the notoriously corrupt Rhee government in a nearly bloodless military coup in May of 1961. Park immediately got to work weening South Korea from American developmental aid. In the first decade of Park’s rule, South Korea prioritized light industry with an eye toward foreign exports.[4] The Park government shifted the Korean economy away from the import substitution model that bogged down in Latin American countries and toward an export-based structure. Under a system of five-year plans, the first of which called for a transformation from aid-dependent to independent, a central economic planning board unified national budgeting, planning, and review and directed money into diversified manufacturing industries.[5] By the middle of the 1960s, Korea was exporting everything from radios and batteries to steel products and textiles to rice and fish.[6] The value of Korea’s manufacturing exports grew from $41 million to $81 million from 1961 to 1963 alone, and it multiplied 24 times between 1961 and 1975, from $41 million dollars to $2 billion.[7] The emphasis on exports was accompanied by financial sector reforms, including nimble monetary policy to counteract  the inflation endemic during the Rhee days, as well as deregulation of investment and import restrictions. In this reformist environment, savings grew from 2 percent of GDP in 1961 to 14 percent in the 1970s.[8]

Park’s mercantilist government did not let the market decide where those savings went. By offering negative interest rates on loans guaranteed by the government, the bureaucracy monopolized investment decisions and directed those savings out of the informal banking sector and into certain productive channels—not for short term returns on investment but to serve long-term national goals.[9] Park’s government directed investment first into those light industries and later into steel, chemicals, and electronics, especially during Park’s Heavy-Chemical Industry Drive (HCI) in the early 1970s, which emphasized heavy industries such as steel, ship building and especially chemical production, a counter to its scarce natural resources.[10] These industries, many of which did not even exist at the beginning of the drive, fed off each other in interlocking supply chains, the steel industry feeding the machine tools industry feeding the shipping industry as Korea climbed up the value chain, defying American economic advisors and the International Monetary Fund.[11] Park’s government told those industries what to produce, and it built the infrastructure for those industries, provided them property and preferential treatment, and secured buyers in foreign countries, especially the United States.[12] These industries congealed into Korea’s famed and giant chaebol conglomerates. And slowly, under government-directed development, Korea got rich.

Salient internal realities made these policies possible. Park himself deserves much of the credit for the transformation of the Korean economy. Park learned many lessons as an officer in the Japanese Imperial Army. Key among them was its strategy of forced industrialization in Manchuria. Park, who admired what Japan had done during the Meiji Restoration and after, borrowed much from Japan’s own development, including its economic structure, corporate culture, and five-year plans.[13] That experience gelled with Park’s personal proclivities and fed his hopes for a different kind of Korean nation. Another lesson Park learned was the utility of political repression. Park ruthlessly quashed worker and social resistance to his economic program and his regime.[14] Park was a man with a vision and an iron fist. He kept that fist gripped on the tiller, despite resistance from his American backers and international financial authorities. Park believed that “steel is national power.” He dragged his country toward that particular brand of hard power by instilling a “can do” spirt among Korea’s people, as well as by building national infrastructure, much of which at the time seemed imprudent.[15] It is difficult to believe Korea’s astounding development would have happened as it did without that kind of leadership. Despite his dictatorial excesses, Park remains South Korea’s most popular leader.[16]

Park was aided by other characteristics inherent to Korean social culture. As a model Confucian polity for thousands of years, meritocratic, scholar-official leadership was not alien to the Korea people. Park drew on Confucian ideals of filial piety, obedience, and loyalty to secure his technocratic government’s position, and he deployed Confucian reverence for education to develop an educated, trainable, and still-cheap labor force. Drawing on the Confucian belief in the “perfectibility” of people, Rhee and Park’s South Korea implemented a stringent compulsory education requirement.[17] Literacy rates shot up from 20 percent to 80 percent in 20 years,[18] achieving a level above 90 percent by 1964.[19] The educated workforce provided the basis of the economic growth. Korea had a homegrown, abundant supply of educated workers—workers that were 2.5 times as productive as American workers at 1/10th of the cost.[20] The Korean people, working in concert with Park’s leadership, were a critical piece of its economic miracle.[21]

Those internal factors—strong leadership for government-directed growth and an emphasis on abundant, educated labor—could (and should) be replicated by developing countries today. The external factors that were also critical to Korea’s success, however, are more difficult to replicate. Korea, like Japan, began its industrial rise from a nearly blank slate; the Korean War had wiped out existing infrastructure and leveled social hierarchies.[22] During wartime, this meant opportunities for a new class of entrepreneur who seeded businesses that served the omnipresent American military.[23] Those individuals and businesses were then “fertilized by the inconceivable amounts of American cash that flowed into the country.”[24]  After the war, the destruction of existing infrastructure also allowed state planners to build power and industry infrastructure that served the goals of the development plans rather than having to work with existing inefficiencies.

The United States continued to be a critical piece of Korean success. Aside from providing for the defense that kept South Korea in existence—no small thing—the USA poured aid dollars into South Korea in the years after the Korean War. Although these aid dollars—which reached $12 billion between 1945 and 1975, according to official sources that exclude private American expenditures and black-market transactions—created in Korea a dependent and deficient state under Rhee, they also helped pay for the infrastructure that would prove critical for Korean industrial development.[25]

Finally, the international situation in 1965 proved momentous for Korea. In May 1965, Korea got help from its old enemy Japan. Under pressure from Washington and facilitated by the American involvement in both countries, the normalization of relations between Korea and Japan in the spring 1965 injected $800 million into the Korean economy (a mix of loans, grants, and credit) at a time when Korean exports amounted to only $200 million.[26] That financing provided the basis for significant sectors of industrial development, including Korea’s indigenous steel industry.[27] Korean manufactures energized by that “Japanese Marshall Plan” quickly found an outlet for their products, too: another American war in Asia. By the middle of the 1960s, increasing American involvement in Vietnam required equivalent investment. Korea provided it in both people and stuff. In exchange for what would amount to more than 300,000 South Korean combat troops, the United States paid more than $1 billion in foreign exchange to Park’s government by 1970, close to 10 percent of its total GDP.[28] That foreign exchange facilitated purchases of the raw materials needed for Korea’s fledgling industry to pump out products. Those products then returned to the American effort in Vietnam. As much as 94 percent of Korean steel production and 52 percent of its transportation equipment exports went to Vietnam during the war.[29] These flows of foreign capital into domestic industry provided the energy behind Park’s HCI in the early 1970s and launched Korea on the trajectory to developed nation. In the background to all of this, American and Japanese light industries were declining just as Korean manufacturing began to take off.

There are lessons to be taken from the Korean economic model. Through a combination of leadership and culture, Korea embarked on a successful, long-term, state-led project of export-driven development. That, at least, is a path other developing nations could try to follow. Korean development did not happen in a domestic vacuum, however, and significant external factors contributed to the environment in which Korea succeeded. Most notably was its connection to the United States, which not only supplied Korea with money and markets but also facilitated its rapprochement with Japan as well as its lucrative involvement in the Vietnam War. Korea’s unique historical position, then, makes the Korean economic miracle a difficult one to fully replicate.

[1] International Monetary Fund data (, accessed December 11, 2019).
[2] Hayam Kim and Uk Heo, “Comparative Analysis of Economic Development in South Korea and Taiwan,” Asian Perspective (Volume 41, Number 1, January-March 2017).
[3] Ibid.
[4] Princeton Lyman, “Economic Development in South Korea: A Retrospective view of the 1960s,” in Edward Reynolds, ed., Korean Politics in Transition (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1975), 244.
[5] Kim and Heo, “Comparative Analysis of Economic Development in South Korea and Taiwan.”
[6] Lyman, “Economic Development in South Korea,” 248.
[7] Ibid, 246-248.
[8]Ibid, 247-248
[9] Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History (New York: WW Norton, 1997), 314-331.
[10] Ibid, 320-324.
[11] Ibid, 320-324.
[12] Ibid, 314.
[13] Sung-Yoon Lee, “Korea Under Park Chung Hee” (lecture at The Fletcher School at Tufts University, October 28, 2019).
[14] Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun, 314.
[15] The RoK’s Seoul to Busan highway, built before many Koreas even owned cars, is one example. Sung-Yoon Lee, “Korea Under Park Chung Hee” (lecture at The Fletcher School at Tufts University, October 28, 2019).
[16] Ibid.
[17] Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun, 300.
[18] Lyman, 255
[19] Kim and Heo, “Comparative Analysis of Economic Development in South Korea and Taiwan.”
[20] Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun, 313.
[21] Lyman, 247.
[22] Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun, 300.
[23] The Chairman of Hyundai is one such individual who began his business career moving supplies for American military bases, according to Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun.
[24] Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun, 306.
[25] Cumings, Korea’s place in the Sun, 301.
[26] Lee, “Korea Under Park Chung Hee.”
[27] Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun, 320-322.
[28] Lee, “Korea Under Park Chung Hee.”
[29] Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun, 320-321.

Dangerous Waters: Reassessing Conflict in the South China Sea

These days, all is not smooth sailing in the South China Sea. Despite violence throughout Asia during the decades-long Cold War, the South China Sea remained calm. But starting in 2010, with the rapid economic and military rise of China and the United States’ so-called “pivot to Asia,” the waters that lap the shores of China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and Taiwan have grown choppy. From harsh words to physical confrontations, the situation is tense. In response, some conventional discourse today argues that China’s aggressive pursuit of territorial control in the South China Sea results from a Chinese long-game desire to replace the United States as the sole hegemonic power, first in the region, then in the world.[1] Many also argue America should – indeed must – adopt a confrontational approach in the South China Sea, empower its small allies and partners in the region, squash Chinese ambitions, and protect American interests and prestige—even if it leads to war.[2]

Those interpretations and policy approaches are incorrect and dangerous. First, China’s expansion of power and development in the South China Sea should not be seen primarily as an outward-looking attempt to usurp global U.S. power but rather, as V.I. Lenin would have it, part of an ongoing, inward-looking attempt by China’s leaders to find an outlet for excess domestic capital. The countries that rim the South China Sea, along with other nations around the world that form links of China’s amorphous and ever-ballooning Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), form major outlets for the over-productive forces at work within China. For China, military development in the South China Sea guarantees protection of the trade and investments necessitated by internal economic pressure. It does not advance revisionist designs for global domination. China worries unless it can solve the structural problems that plague its economy, economic crisis could destabilize the communist regime.

Nevertheless, the growing power and prestige that enable China’s imperialist projects in Southeast Asia signal a growing disequilibrium in the world. Concerned U.S. policymakers, instead of falling for the popular, incomplete, and misleading “Thucydides Trap” analysis,[3] should turn to Robert Gilpin’s theory of hegemonic transition and war for a more complete understanding of the international forces at work in the South China Sea. While a great power sea change does seem to be occurring in Asia, the United States can avoid hegemonic war there by understanding Gilpin’s thesis and pursuing a careful policy of appeasement and accommodation in the South China Sea. To do otherwise could be disastrous for the global stability.

These dual reexaminations of the situation in the South China Sea could calm the waters there and avoid a capsizing of both American and Chinese power.

Nature and Scope

The 1.4-million-square-mile South China Sea is some of the most important maritime territory on planet Earth. More than $3.3 trillion of trade sailed through its island-speckled waters in 2016, as well as 40 percent of the world’s global liquified natural gas. Beneath waters sit an additional 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 11 billion barrels of untapped oil, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. [4] Bilateral trade between China and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), meanwhile, hit $514.8 billion in 2017, up 13.8 percent on the year, continuing a trend of rising trade between China and its neighbors around the South China Sea. Of that, Chinese exports accounted for $279.1 billion, 9 percent growth year-over-year, for a Chinese trade surplus with ASEAN of $43.4 billion in 2017.[5] Twenty-one of China’s 39 maritime trade routes and 60 percent of its trade passes by the South China Sea’s contested Spratly Islands, claimed by China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. [6] Tellingly, as of Spring 2018, the Spratlys are home to Chinese missile systems.[7]

Adding to the South China Sea’s economic importance, nearly all of China’s oil arrives through Southeast Asia from the Middle East via Malaysia’s Strait of Malacca. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2015 nearly one-third of the world’s liquid petroleum products transported by sea moved through the Strait of Malacca, which is only about 1.7 miles wide.[8] Four-fifths of all China’s ship-transported oil arrives through those straits and then the South China Sea. [9] China, which cannot prevent other international actors from disrupting its sea lanes and which must rely instead of the United States to guarantee freedom of navigation,[10] tends to view its trade and oil security “through the prism of American-Japanese containment.”[11] It worries that a terrorist attack, natural disaster, or most likely a military crisis with the United States over Taiwan could close straits throughout Southeast Asia’s waters, cutting off China’s oil supply and trade routes and disrupting its economy.

Lastly, investments in the region are a burgeoning piece of China’s global investment portfolio under its BRI and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Chinese outward foreign investment in ASEAN countries amounted to $14.7 billion dollars in 2017. Chinese investment and construction projects have flowed into all Southeast Asian countries, made possible by those trade and energy links through the South China Sea. Key partners include Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. [12] They form the beginning of an over-sea economic chain China intends to link to the Middle East and Europe. China is now the third largest global investor in ASEAN behind Japan and ASEAN countries themselves,[13] and analysts expect Chinese investment in Southeast Asia to continue to grow, even as US investment declines as a share of the total.[14]

China’s military capabilities have exploded in the South China Sea alongside its investments. In 2009, China released maps showing an ambiguous “Nine-Dash Line” encompassing most of the South China Sea.[15] Although the meaning and legal basis of the line are unclear, the line created an outcry among Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam, all of which contest some of China’s territorial claims in the sea. Indonesia does not claim any territory there, but the nine-dash line does overlap with its exclusive economic zone.[16] In the years after 2009, China began building artificial islands – 3,200 acres of new land by 2018 – on reefs and rocks throughout the area encompassed by the dashed line, some of them military installations with missile launchers, hangars and runways, ports, and barracks. It also beefed up its coast guard and naval capabilities.[17] China now challenges foreign traffic in the area, including American military boats on freedom of navigation exercises and American reconnaissance flights.[18] China insists foreign vessels get permission before entering the area, and Chinese craft have intercepted American air force planes and forced American navy ships off course.[19] Chinese coast guard vessels have even run local fishing boats out of contested territory.[20] The U.S. insists all these activities violate freedom of navigation principles that are instrumental to ensuring unobstructed trade worldwide. Those principles, perhaps not incidentally, also guarantee U.S. military access to the region.[21] A 2016 United Nations court ruling in favor of the Philippines against China under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention did not stop China’s projects in the disputed areas. Instead, China doubled its efforts to build better diplomatic relations with the Philippines and other affected countries while it continued to build.[22] Although China assures the United States it will not interfere with “innocent passage” of trade vessels through its claimed territory, the militarized South China Sea is now effectively China’s.[23]

“In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States,” Admiral Philip S. Davidson told Congress in May 2018.[24]

But why does China want to control the South China Sea?

Island Building: The Highest Stage of Capitalism

Although geostrategic concerns do play some part in China’s development of the South China Sea, a more important aspect of China’s activities there is its attempt to stave off a domestic economic crisis. China needs adequate outlets for overcapacity in its industrial sector and for its over-accumulating capital. China, V.I. Lenin, would argue, has reached the highest stage of capitalism: imperialism.[25]

In his outline of the origins of imperialism, Lenin argues capitalism – and despite its moniker, China’s ruling Chinese Communist Party is at this point unabashedly capitalist – invariably leads to imperialism.

“Economically, the main thing in this process [of capitalism transforming into imperialism] is the substitution of capitalist monopolies for capitalist free competition. Free competition is the fundamental attribute of capitalism, and of the commodity production generally. Monopoly is the exact opposite of free competition; but we have seen the latter being transformed into monopoly before our very eyes, creating large-scale industry and eliminating small industry, finally leading to such a concertation of production and capital that monopoly has been and is the result: Cartels, syndicates, and trusts, and merging with them, the capital of a dozen or so banks manipulating thousands of millions.”[26]

Free competition, as the traditional capitalist means it, has never really existed in the PRC’s major industrial sectors. But what is the Chinese state, with its massive state-owned enterprises, if not a cartel, syndicate, or trust? And what is the Chinese financial sector, with its massive, state-owned banks manipulating thousands of millions, if not a financial capital monopoly?

China has massive excess savings and foreign reserves produced by its 1980s and 1990s manufacturing and export-driven economic boom. China’s state-owned enterprises are “sitting on piles of cash”, according to one recent study.[27] Since 2014, China has been the world’s top exporter of capital,[28] and in 2009, government-controlled state-owned enterprises made up $38.2 billion (67.6 percent) of China’s total outward direct investment.[29] Those trends have been driven by the rapid growth of the Chinese economy that concentrated capital in the large state-owned enterprises. That pattern led to several structural economic problems, most notably for our purposes, over-production and excess capital accumulation.[30]

The surplus capital sloshing around China made it necessary beginning in the 1990s for China to seek new avenues through which to direct its capacity and capital. At first, China embarked on massive in-country infrastructure projects and waves of urbanization.[31] Once internal growth slowed, those projects triggered over-capacity in China’s industrial sector, especially coal and steel, and so in 1999 China launched its “Going Global” policy of seeking external outlets for investment.[32] That search for external outlets has only intensified over the last decade as China has grown increasingly concerned its rent-seeking producers and excess capital might cause a destabilizing economic crisis. Its ill-defined Belt and Road Initiative is the now the primary, centrally directed mechanism to prevent an economic crisis and promote the internationalization of the economy.[33] BRI, then, is definitively imperialist, as Lenin defines it. “Under modern capitalism,” Lenin writes, “when monopolies prevail, the export of capital has become the typical feature.”[34]

Viewed through Lenin’s lens, it becomes clear what China is up to in the South China Sea. Southeast Asia is a key link in China’s BRI, specifically its 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which aims to link China’s southern provinces to Southeast Asia via ports and railroads and then to the Middle East’s oil reserves and the Mediterranean Sea. BRI is the critical outlet for China’s outward investment. China plans to invest more than $1 trillion in the its Belt and Road routes, including high-speed trains, power plants, port expansion, highways, and other infrastructure investment as it seeks to resolve its chronic over-production issues and find an outlet for its excess capital.[35] Aside from infrastructure and investment, China also hopes to create special industrial zones throughout Southeast Asia and to enhance economic integration and interregional trade.[36] Like Lenin’s reviled banking conglomerates, one of the chief financing mechanisms behind the entire BRI project is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank founded by China, which contributed $29.78 billion starting capital and has effective veto-power in the AIIB.[37] BRI is Lenin’s imperialism in 21st-century action.

Easing excess capital accumulation has not been the only goal of these external investments, either. Chinese companies have worked to secure throughout Southeast Asia the raw materials and energy resources necessary to continue to grow.[38] Among these are the potential gas and oil resources that sit below the waves of the South China Sea, as well as the mineral resources of some ASEAN countries. This too aligns with Lenin’s thesis of imperialism. “These monopolies are most firmly established when all the sources of raw materials are controlled by the one group. And we have seen with what zeal the international capitalist combines exert every effort to make it impossible for their rivals to compete with them; for example by buying up mineral lands, oil fields, etc. … Finance capital is not only interested in the already known sources of raw materials; it is also interested in the potential sources of raw materials, because present-day technical development is extremely rapid, and because land which is useless today may be made fertile tomorrow if new methods are applied.”[39]

Furthermore, as China transforms from an industrial state to a creditor state, it’s military plays an important enforcement role. Like other creditor nations before it, China profits doubly off the loans it extends to its more-impoverished Southeast Asian neighbors.  As Lenin puts it, “The increase in exports is closely connected with the swindling tricks of finance capital, which is not concerned with bourgeois morality, but with skinning the ox twice—first it pockets the profits from the loan, then it pockets other profits from the same loan which the borrower uses to make purchases”—now from Chinese companies.[40] This has been the case throughout Southeast Asia and the South China Sea. Moreover, countries like the Philippines now find themselves in debt traps that risk turning Chinese infrastructure projects built with Chinese materials into Chinese colonial possessions under the guns of Chinese boats. Much like Great Britain or America before it, China’s coast guard and navy “plays here the part of bailiff in the case of necessity.”[41]

“Great Britain’s political power protects her from the indignation of her debtors,” Gerhart von Schulze-Gaevernitz wrote.[42] Today, so does China’s.

Considering all these factors, China’s aggressive build up in the South China Sea is a natural outgrowth of its imperial policy and follows in the footsteps of empires before it. It is nothing if not a timeworn imperialist tradition. If China cannot guarantee control of the shipping routes in Southeast Asia, it cannot guarantee its lucrative investments, energy resources, and trade networks there. With its economy and the well-being of its party monopolists so reliant on external investment, resource development, and international trade, what choice does China have but to expand its military presence and capabilities in the region? Control of the South China Sea is a must.

Morality aside, China’s attempts to control the South China Sea are nothing the world hasn’t seen before. They are plain, old imperialism. And as with prior empires, they derive primarily from economic pressure inside its borders.

A Hegemonic Sea Change?

China, which believes it is the rightful imperial heir to the Southeast Asian sphere of influence, insists that its imperialist projects around the South China Sea align with its principle of “peaceful coexistence.” But Lenin was correct when he said “there can be no other conceivable basis under capitalism for the division of spheres of influence, of interests, of colonies, etc., than a calculation of the strength of the participants in the division … and the strength of these participants in the division does not change to an equal degree, for under capitalism the development of … countries cannot be even.[43] And so the South China Sea, now in disequilibrium because of China’s imperialist expansion, has been set up for a calamity.

In his book War and Change in World Politics, Robert Gilpin argues the world is traditionally organized by one of three structures: a single hegemonic power, a bipolar arrangement, or a multipower arrangement characterized by multiple powers in balance-of-power situations. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the world has been organized by a single American hegemon that has been largely able to shape or influence the world according to its interests, including free trade, and to enforce those interests primarily through its overwhelming naval power. Since the 2008 financial crisis, however, the world has slipped into a bipolar arrangement with the explosion of the Chinese economy and the subsequent growth of its military and political power and prestige. A bipolar order, Gilpin says, is the most unstable and short-lived of world organizations and quickly slips into disequilibrium and, often, war.[44]

Two factors determine a country’s status in the world order: power and prestige. Power accounts for a nation’s economic, political, and military capacities to directly shape the world, while prestige accounts for the perceptions of other states regarding a nation’s willingness and capability to exercise its power.[45] China’s power and prestige have both been supercharged, especially in Asia, surprising much of the world.

The rise of a new power often startles the world and particularly the dominant power. Leon Trotsky explains that new powers do not – indeed cannot – follow the same developmental trajectory as the old. Instead, they borrow the technology and knowledge of those powers which have gone before to rise rapidly and shake the global order. As Trotsky says:

“Although compelled to follow after the advanced countries, a backward country does not take things in the same order. The privilege of historic backwardness – and such privilege exists – permits, or rather compels, the adoption of whatever is ready in advance of any specified date, skipping a whole series of intermediate stages.”[46]

China, in 1978, had the “privilege of historic backwardness.” Over the course of Deng Xiaoping’s Opening and Reform that began that year, however, China launched itself out of backwardness and into the ranks of the world’s advanced, or at least advancing, countries. It skipped the intermediate stages of development, borrowing instead economic, technical, and military ideas to go, in the span of 20 years, from Asian backwater to Asian power. Its power has grown by the year, especially in relative terms after the 2008 financial crisis devastated the global economy outside of China.[47] Gilpin argues that “as power of a state grows, it seeks to extend its territorial control, its political influence, and/or its domination of the international economy,” exactly what China has done in the South China sea since 2009.[48] China, in its growing self-confidence, claims new territory in the South China Sea by bringing to bear its political power because of its desire to control the economy in Southeast Asia. This, in turn, further enhances its political power and prestige in the region as the smaller countries come to grips with China’s goals and prestige – its willingness to do whatever necessary to achieve them. As Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte recently told Reuters about a conversation he had with Chinese Chairman Xi Jinping regarding competition for oil resources in the South China Sea, “We’re friends, we don’t want to quarrel with you, we want to maintain the presence of warm relationship, but if you force the issue, we’ll go to war.”[49] There is nothing the formerly bellicose Duterte can do about it.

China’s actions and attitude in the South China Sea illustrate Gilpin’s theory that “as relative power increases, a rising state attempts to change the rules governing the international system, the division of spheres of influence, and most important of all, the international distribution of territory. In response, the dominant power counters this challenge through changes in its policies that attempt to restore equilibrium in the system.”[50] Contemporary China ignores previously established rules governing freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, claims and builds new territory, and enlarges its sphere of influence in Southeast Asia. Those actions directly challenge the supremacy of the author and protector of the current order: The United States. The old status quo in the South China Sea favored the United States and its interests. Maintaining that status quo grows more difficult for the United States as, faced with diminishing returns, competing with China in Southeast Asia requires much greater financial costs to contest China’s ambitions with adequate power. It is not easy or cheap to control a sea on the other side of the world in the backyard of a rising power. “The principal external factor undermining the position of the dominant state is the increasing costs of dominance … Increases in the numbers and strengths of rival, challenging powers force the dominant state to expend more resources to maintain its superior military or political position,” Gilpin writes.[51] “There is a tendency for the economic costs of maintaining the international status quo to rise faster than the financial capacity of the dominant power to support its position and the status quo[52] … In these situations, the disequilibrium in the system becomes increasingly acute as the declining power tries to maintain its position and the rising power attempts to transform the system in ways that will advance its interests. As a consequence of this persisting disequilibrium, the international system is beset by tensions, uncertainties, and crises.”[53]

What is to be done, Mr. Gilpin?

The United States, Gilpin would argue, is now faced with two choices to resolve the global disequilibrium: appeasement or war.

For a declining power, Gilpin says the most attractive response to the rise of a challenger is to “eliminate the source of the problem. By launching a preventative war, the declining power destroys or weakens the rising challenger while the military advantage is still with the declining power … however, besides causing unnecessary loss of life, the greatest danger inherent in preventative war is that is sets in motion a course of events over which statesmen soon lose control.”[54] War cannot, or should not, any longer be an option for the United States. Power in the South China Sea has shifted too far in China’s favor. Against the military installations built up on islands through the sea as well as China’s swelling coastal naval capabilities, the United States stands to lose countless lives and waste uncountable sums in a full-scale war. While the United States’ military power undoubtedly still goes unrivaled in absolute brute force, the costs imposed by a status-quo maintaining war would be so high they would likely destroy the status quo anyway, leaving a void for a different power step into. Regardless, in the nuclear age, no one can afford to “lose control” of events. A hegemonic war between the United States and China in the South China Sea would certainly re-shape the status quo but not in a way either could predict or benefit from.

Gilpin offers a better, more difficult choice, one that would allow the United States to keep its power and most of its prestige and continue to maintain beneficial elements of the current world order—if Americans have the stomach to face the new reality in Southeast Asia. “The third means of bringing cost and resources into balance is, of course, to reduce foreign policy commitments. … The most direct method of retrenchment is unilateral abandonment of certain of a state’s economic, political, or military commitments … the third and most difficult method of retrenchment is to make concessions to the rising power and thereby seek to appease its ambitions.”[55] This the United States’ best course, though it is not an easy one to navigate.

It is time for the United States to give up on the South China Sea. It should shore up Taiwan, cede navigational control to China, and allow China to pursue its imperialist economic projects in Southeast Asia. As we have seen, China’s ambitions in Southeast Asia are primarily economic, not geostrategic. China seeks in the South China Sea to ensure its economic well-being and prevent an economic crisis that would harm China and the rest of the world. China’s designs, while not necessarily benevolent, nevertheless have largely positive impacts on the region, where it is simply replacing the United States as a dominant economic actor. As Gilpin predicts joining Lenin, “Although capitalist economies had an incentive to colonize the world, they also had an incentive to develop it.” That is what China is doing in Southeast Asia along its Maritime Silk Road. By retrenching at home, America can appease China’s ambitions, shore up America’s own economic situation, save lives and treasure, and begin finding its place in a new global equilibrium. It is not the easy choice, but it is the smart one.

Gilpin, however, might not be optimistic about the prospects:

“Throughout history the primary means of resolving the disequilibrium between the structure of international system and the redistribution of power has been war, more particularly, what we shall call a hegemonic war. … A hegemonic war is the ultimate test of change in the relative standings of the powers in the existing system. … The conclusion of one hegemonic war is the beginning of another cycle of growth, expansion, and eventual decline. The law of uneven growth continues to redistribute power, thus undermining the status quo established by the last hegemonic struggle. Disequilibrium replaces equilibrium and the world moves toward a new round of hegemonic conflict. It has always been thus and always will be, until men either destroy themselves or learn to develop an effective mechanism of peaceful change.” [56]

With a proper, Leninist view of China’s imperialist economic ambitions in the South China Sea and a better understanding based on Gilpin’s theory of global hegemonic transition, however, this time could be different.

[1] See for example, Phillip Chertoff’s “Behind China’s Ambitious Plan to Reshape World Power” (The Aspen Institute, May 7, 2018) or Michael Pillsbury’s The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower (London: St. Martin’s Press, 2015).
[2] Pence, Mike, “Vice President Mike Pence’s Remarks on the Administration’s Policy toward China,” speech at the Hudson Institute (October 4, 2018).
[3] Allison, Graham, “The Thucydides Trap: Are the U.S. and China Headed for War?” (The Atlantic, September 24, 2015).
[4] Council on Foreign Relations, “Territorial Disputes in the South China Sea”, December 10, 2018,!/conflict/territorial-disputes-in-the-south-china-sea, accessed December 12, 2018.
[5] Xinhua, “China-ASEAN Trade Volume Hits Record High in 2017”, January 28, 2018.
[6] RAND Corporation, “At the Dawn of Belt and Road: China and the Developing World” (October 2018), 42.
[7] CNBC, “China Quietly Installed Defensive Missiles Systems on Strategic Spratly Islands in Hotly Contested South China Sea”, May 2, 2018.
[8] The U.S. Energy Information Administration, “The Strait of Malacca, a Key Oil Trade Chokepoint, Links the Indian and Pacific Oceans”, (, accessed December 4, 2018)
[9] Steinberg, David I., and Fan Hongwei. Modern China-Myanmar Relations: Dilemmas of Mutual Dependence (Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2012), 168-169.
[10] Hongyi Harry Lai, “China’s Oil Diplomacy: Is it a Global Security Threat?” (Third World Quarterly, Vol. 28, No. 3, 2007), 534
[11] Lee, Pak K., “China’s Quest for Oil Security: Oil (Wars) in the Pipeline?” (The Pacific Review, Vol. 18, No. 2, June 2005), 289.
[12] RAND Corporation, “At the Dawn of Belt and Road: China and the Developing World” (October 2018), 42.
[13] South China Morning Post, “South China Sea is Beijing’s Top Foreign Policy Priority with Developing Nations, US Think Tank Says”, October 17, 2018.
[14] Nikko Asset Management, “The Rise of Chinese FDI in ASEAN”, October 5, 2017.
[15] U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense, “Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China” (2018), 12-13.
[16] Ibid, 12-13.
[17] The New York Times, “China’s Sea Control is Done Deal, Short of ‘War with the U.S.’”, September 20, 2018
[18] Ibid.
[19] BBC, “South China Sea: Chinese Ships Force U.S. Destroyer Off Course”, October 2, 2018.
[20] Reuters, “Philippines Accuses China of Turning Water Cannon on Its Fishing Boats”, April 21, 2015.
[21] The New York Times, “China’s Sea Control is Done Deal, Short of ‘War with the U.S.”.
[22] [22] U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense, “Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China” (2018), 12-13.
[23] CATO Institute, “A Balanced Threat Assessment of China’s South Sea Policy,” August 28, 2017.
[24] The New York Times, “China’s Sea Control is Done Deal, Short of ‘War with the U.S.”
[25] V.I. Lenin, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism (New York: International Publishers, 1939)
[26] Lenin, Imperialism, 88.
[27] Lehmann, Tavares, Teresa, Ana, and Lehmann, Fredrick. “Outward Direct Investment by Chinese State-Owned Enterprises” (Competitiveness Review, Vol. 27, Issue 3, 2017) 231-52.
[28] Götken, Kerem, “One Belt, One Road: Capital Export with Chinese Characteristics” in Economic Issues in Retrospect and Prospect (London: IJPOEC Publications, 2018), 15.
[29] U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, “Going Out: An Overview of China’s Outward Direct Investment” (March 30, 2011), 6.
[30] Götken, “One Belt, One Road: Capital Export with Chinese Characteristics,” 15.
[31] Ibid, 15.
[32] Ibid, 5.
[33] Götken, Kerem, “One Belt, One Road: Capital Export with Chinese Characteristics”, 24.
[34] Lenin, Imperialism, 62.
[35]Götken, Kerem, “One Belt, One Road: Capital Export with Chinese Characteristics”, 19-20.
[36] Ibid, 19-20.
[37]Ibid, 19-20.
[38]Ibid, 17.
[39] Lenin, Imperialism, 82-83.
[40] Lenin, Imperialism, 116.
[41] Schulze-Gaevernitz, Gerhart von, Britischer Imperialisms (cited in Lenin, Imperialism, 101).
[42] Ibid, 101.
[43] Lenin, Imperialism, 119.
[44] Gilpin, Robert, War and Change in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 29.
[45] Ibid, 31.
[46] Knei-Paz, Baruch, The Social and Political Thought of Leon Trotsky (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), PAGE)
[47] Despite a drop in its GDP growth rate, China continued to grow at nearly 10 percent through 2009. The United States shrunk 2.78 percent and the world 1.74 percent, according to data from the World Bank.
[48] Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics, 106
[49] Reuters, “Duterte says China’s Xi Threatened War if Philippines Drills for Oil”, May 17, 2018.
[50] Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics, 187.
[51] Ibid, 168-169.
[52] Ibid, 156.
[53] Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics, 197.
[54] Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics, 191.
[55] Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics, 191-193.
[56] Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics, 197-198.