Why China Bullies? Expert Decodes Xi Jinping’s Aggressive Moves

Dr Ketian Zhang explains why China bullies other countries and whether the Chinese military is a ‘paper tiger’.

1 min read

China is a cautious bully, uses coercion selectively and calculates the economic costs of its actions, says an expert on China’s coercive tactics. With India and China border stand-off in Ladakh turning deadly for the first time in decades, Dr Ketian Vivian Zhang  explains why China bullies other countries, what triggers its fears, its motives and whether the Chinese military is a ‘paper tiger’.

China is currently facing a border stand-off with India, making aggressive moves in the South China Sea, facing resistance while tightening its grip on Hong Kong, being accused of cyber attacks and economic coercion by Australia among other hostile engagements.

Is there a method to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s apparent chaos? Or is China stretching itself thin?


“China believes that if it does not take any coercive action against a target state, then that state will eventually threaten China’s national security,” explains Dr Zhang, author of a paper titled “Cautious Bully: Reputation, Resolve and Beijing’s Use of Coercion in the South China Sea,” which studies rising powers, coercion, economic statecraft, and maritime disputes in international relations and social movements in comparative politics, with a regional focus on China and East Asia.

Watch the video above for the full interview.

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