Schar School Professor Zhang to Study ‘Chinese Coercion’

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Ketian Zhang: ‘…[T]he award itself also indicates the importance of the ‘China question’ for both academic and policy reasons.’

Originally published on November 29, 2020

As China continues its rise as a global superpower—and in doing so, threatening American hegemony—the communist nation has become an inescapable discussion topic among U.S. strategists. Ketian Zhang, who teaches “grand strategy” at the Schar School of Policy and Government, has been awarded a grant to write a book discussing China’s rise.

“This award will help me further conduct my fieldwork in Japan and Southeast Asia when the pandemic is over,” Zhang said. “And winning the award itself also indicates the importance of the ‘China question’ for both academic and policy reasons. That is, what is the rationale behind China’s coercive actions, what does China’s coercion say about rising powers trajectory, and is it generalizable?”

Not to mention “what are the implications for the United States, as well as the rest of the world?”  she added.

Zhang’s book will discuss how, when, and why China uses coercion, and what tools the state seeks to employ. Since the early 1990s, China has used coercion to address various national security issues, such as territorial disputes and arms sales to Taiwan. These actions, however, have damaging effects on the Communist Party’s reputation. Analysis of China’s behavior has not been answered systematically, something Zhang hopes to correct.

Zhang’s funding is provided by the Oak Ridge Associated Universities, which for more than 70 years has partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy, as well as other government agencies, to advance the nation’s top priorities.

Schar School fact: The lifetime value of active grants currently awarded to Schar School faculty is $25 million, which places the school near the top of its peer institutions.