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The George W. Bush Administration Perceived: Chinese Security Elites' Views of U.S. Security Policy Toward China Open Access

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This dissertation evaluates how Chinese security and foreign policy elites perceived the signals sent by the two components of the George W. Bush administration's hedging policy toward China, engagement and balancing. It argues that Chinese security elites' perceptions can be categorized into four schools of thought: the Malign Containers, the Pragmatic Hegemonists, the Evolutionists, and the New Thinkers. It argues that the existence of these four schools of thought, and the changes that took place in Chinese security perceptions over time, support the argument made by cognitive psychological theories that signals are filtered through preexisting perceptions. It therefore presents a challenge to the argument made by offensive realism that state interactions are determined by the balance of power and that signals do not matter. It also presents a challenge to the argument made by defensive realism and rationalism that information speaks for itself and states can clearly express their intentions to each other through "costly signaling." The dissertation evaluates U.S. policy, the role that U.S. friends and allies in the region played in it, and Chinese security elites' perceptions as expressed through published academic materials and interviews.

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