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Title: Chinese views of the role of morality in international relations and the use of force
Author: Filler, Lukas
ISNI:       0000 0004 7427 9366
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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This study quantitatively tested whether the strategic preferences of China’s future decision makers are consistent with non-coercive Confucian values. Students at six elite Chinese universities were surveyed to identify beliefs about the character of the international system, when and how it is permissible to use force, and whether morality should constrain state behavior. Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) was used to characterize and validate stated beliefs, strategic preferences, and moral reasoning as well as to determine the extent to which they reflected the theoretical Confucian system of values and conception of moral governance. Respondents’ perception of a dangerous, zero-sum, conflict-prone international system was not consistent with a Confucian worldview. Neither was their strong proclivity to use force to counter most any potential threat or when in the state’s best overall interests. There was substantial concern for noncombatants and the intentionality of harming them influenced the morality of doing so. However, moral ideals did not strongly constrain behavior. At the same time, such exceptional necessity also did not tend to make immoral behavior moral. There was also a consistent, strong bias to hold foreign states to higher standards of behavior and morality than the respondents’ own state. The results also showed that the framework of related issues which define and differentiate major IR theories only explained a small portion of respondents’ beliefs about the international system, state behavior, and the role of morality in them. It is likely that respondents’ reasoning about these issues were also influenced by nationalistic beliefs which combined Confucian and political realist ideologies.
Supervisor: Patalano, Alessio ; Yang, Suzanne Xiao ; Lin, Kun-Chin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available