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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Explaining Varying Asian Responses to China: Strategic Evolution in the Cases of Japan, Korea, and Thailand


Domestic strategic preferences among state elites to prioritize economic and technological facets of national security have played a significant role in shaping the foreign policies of many Asian nations. This paper considers the role that elite preferences for economic and technological strength—preferences which are embedded and institutionalized in domestic political structures—played in shaping the security and economic policy responses of Japan, Korea, and Thailand towards China between 1992 and 2008. In all three countries, prioritization of national security in economic terms led elites to perceive threats through economic and/or development lenses. Domestic strategic evolution caused preferences to change over time, leading elites to confront China’s rising military and economic power in different ways.

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