Power is partly innate and internally derived, emerging, for example, from the domestic build-up of military or economic resources. But power is also partly externally granted and bestowed from the outside, as others adjust their behaviour and ambitions based on perceptions of the nature and consequences of power transitions. This paper focuses on how these perceptions are shaped. Whilst theoretical and epistemological starting points are clearly important, the paper draws on insights from deterrence theory to better consider how economic sources of power (and the desire and ability to use them) are understood, with a specific focus on how aims and objectives are communicated and received (and the credibility of them). It suggests that a shift in the nature of economic interactions have combined with a change in the nature of strategic signalling from Beijing to result in a reappraisal of the both the consequences of China’s rise (and also of Chinese intentions) in some parts of Europe; a China challenge to European interests is now seen as more credible and realistic than before both the shift in Chinese investment targets, and Xi Jinping’s personal identification with the Belt and Road project.
About the Speaker
Shaun Breslin is Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick. He is also co-editor of The Pacific Review, and Senior Associate Research Fellow of ISPI in Milan. Having first studied in China in 1984, he has spent the subsequent years studying the China’s changing domestic political economy and China’s place in the world (and how each impacts on the other). He also has a side interest in comparative studies of regional integration processes. He currently holds a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship to study the nature of China as a Great Power, and in the Fall of 2018 will be a distinguished visiting professorial research fellow at Fudan University.