Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

Jennifer Taw

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© 2018 Zijia He


There has been a dangerous gap between American and Chinese perceptions of Chinese foreign policy, a gap contributing to acceptance of the Thucydides Trap. With the help of a theoretical framework and empirical evidence, this paper aims to summarize and understand the differences, in an effort to help overcome them and prevent a self-fulfilling prophecy. The author identifies five variables that shape perceptions and then categorizes Chinese foreign policy along several dimensions. Using the South China Sea and the Belt and Road Initiative as case studies, the author finds that US and Chinese interpretations of Chinese behavior along these dimensions are influenced by different variables. While the Chinese views are more affected by history, American perceptions are driven by considerations of power. The two countries understand both identity and norms differently, as well. By showing where the two countries' perceptions diverge, the author hopes to help reduce misunderstandings. The paper concludes with some practical recommendations along these lines.


Best Senior Thesis in International Relations

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