Date of Graduation

Spring 5-28-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

First Advisor

Annick Wibben

Second Advisor

Filip Kovacevic


Since Former President Barack Obama’s announcement of the Pacific Pivot in 2011, the security dilemma in U.S.-China relations have worsened considerably. Under President Donald Trump’s administration, the shifting of U.S. military focus to the Asia-Pacific region is expected to continue. As the U.S. moves forward with increasing its military presence in the Pacific to counter a perceived “aggressive” China, it may lead to serious consequences. This thesis presents the argument that China’s conception of national security includes the defense of the state from both foreign and domestic threats. Therefore, China’s military developments and policies are not strictly in response to international state threats, because internal security issues also shape China’s construction and practice of military policies. China’s domestic issues contribute considerably to the development of their foreign and military policies, which in turn, affects their relations with other state actors. This thesis argues that the CCP’s securitization of China’s slowing economic growth leads to foreign and military policies that exacerbate the security dilemma in U.S.-China relations. Particularly, China’s actions to defend their economic interests in the South China Sea have heighten tensions between China and the U.S. and her Asia-Pacific allies. While the U.S. is not misreading the potential inter-state danger of China’s increasing military developments and modernization, they may be misreading the driving motives behind it.