Journal of Contemporary China: China’s Crisis Management Capabilities and Sino-Japanese Crisis (In)Stability

My latest peer-reviewed article… an analysis of the likely implications of recent Chinese institutional reforms for Beijing’s military crisis management capabilities–with particular regard to tensions with Japan over competing sovereignty claims in the East China Sea…has just been published in the current issue of Journal of Contemporary China. This piece was coauthored with Professor Andrew Erickson of the U.S. Naval War College. Given the extent to which China’s territorial disputes and escalation risks are in the news, the editor has decided to “ungate it”–so it should be freely accessible at the link below (no journal subscription required).

**Update: this article was selected to be part of the “Editor’s Choice Collection” celebrating the 25th anniversary and 100th issue of Journal of Contemporary China.

  • AbstractAs China’s active assertion of its claim to the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands has increasingly crowded the surrounding waters and airspace with military and paramilitary forces, the risk of a Sino–Japanese crisis has reached unprecedented heights. Neither side wants conflict, but the increased frequency and proximity at which vessels and aircraft encounter one another means that overall risk has grown proportionately. Were a miscalculation or even an unintended low-level incident to occur, de-escalation would hinge on each side’s respective internal crisis management capabilities and political leaders’ ability to communicate expeditiously. This article analyzes China’s side of the ledger. Specifically, it assesses the extent to which institutional reforms since the 2001 US–China EP-3 crisis have ameliorated longstanding weaknesses in China’s crisis management capabilities and its ability to communicate via hotlines with Japan. While significant issues and obstacles to further urgently needed improvements remain, with the establishment of a Central National Security Commission (CNSC) and other recent reforms, Beijing may finally be achieving modest improvements. Bilaterally, however, no Sino–Japanese crisis hotline exists to date.