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Title: The Role of U.S. Military Engagement in Shaping China’s Legal Development on the International Level
Authors: Ku, Karen
Advisors: Flaherty, Martin
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2016
Abstract: In light of the ongoing debate between pessimists and optimists over the meaning of China’s rise for the United States, this thesis asks the question: What role, if any, can U.S. military engagement with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) play in shaping China’s legal development on the international level? By posing this question, this thesis seeks to understand the potential to use a traditionally zero-sum instrument in a positive-sum manner. It also evaluates the implications of this potential on the broader outlook of future U.S.-China relations. To identify the U.S. military’s role in shaping the PRC’s international legal development, this thesis conducts three qualitative case studies. Each case study focuses on a key area of U.S.-China military engagement: antipiracy off the Somali coast, unplanned encounters and military surveillance, and UN peacekeeping operations. The independent study variable is U.S. military engagement with the PRC, and the dependent variable is the PRC’s legal development on the international level. Legal development is measured according to greater fulfillment of Lon Fuller’s eight criteria for rule of law. Each case study sketches the legal developments seen in that particular instance, and then traces the role of the U.S. military in shaping those outcomes. Case 1 assesses the PRC’s participation in international antipiracy operations off the Somali coast as an independent deployer. The key legal development in this case is China’s transfer agreements with regional states for the prosecution of suspected pirates captured in Somali territorial waters. Case 1 finds that the U.S. military played a leadership role in shaping China’s legal development by pioneering the mechanism of transfer agreements. Case 2 analyzes the resolution of unplanned military encounters at sea and in air between the U.S. and China due to U.S. military surveillance in China’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The key legal developments in this case are reciprocal PLA surveillance operations in the U.S.’s EEZ and two U.S.-China MOUs on safety rules for unplanned encounters and notification of major military activities. Case 2 finds that the U.S. military played a modeling role in shaping China’s legal development by encouraging legal surveillance and demonstrating adherence to international law. Case 3 evaluates the PRC’s participation in UN peacekeeping particularly as it relates to the Republic of South Sudan. It finds that the U.S. military has not played a role in shaping China’s legal development because Chinese peacekeeping operations have, in fact, not produced any substantive legal development. Instead, in the arena of peacekeeping, the PRC pursues an economic liberalization first strategy that contradicts, rather than complements, U.S. and UN efforts. The outcomes of these cases reveal that the degree to which the U.S. military can play a role in shaping China’s legal development and the type of role it plays depends on China’s cost-benefit analysis between two conditions: the robustness of existing legal guidelines in the area of engagement and the degree of self-interest China has in disregarding those guidelines. More importantly, these findings collectively demonstrate that the U.S. military can act as a positive-sum instrument, thus suggesting that the outlook of U.S.-China
Extent: 95 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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