Paradigm shifts in the study of Sino-U.S. relations in the post-Cold War era and their implications: commemorating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of Sino-U.S. diplomatic relationsNov. 14,2019
Since the early 1990s, the study of Sino-U.S. relations in China has gone through the stages of raising, growing, and flourishing. The process has also witnessed notable shifts in the research paradigm in the following ways: the research context has shifted from concentrating on the bilateral context to paying extra attention to the multilateral; the research perspective has shifted from exclusively on the U.S. side to looking at both China and the U.S.; the research orientation has shifted from relations of interests orientated to power-balance orientated; the research preference has shifted from stressing on cooperation to giving consideration to both cooperation and competition; the analysis logic has shifted from taking account of the impact of systemic level on unit-level to vice versa; the research emphasis has shifted from the focus on foreign strategy and policy to exploring respective domestic political, economic, social, and cultural factors; and the research method has shifted from empirical approaches to IR theories and methodological innovations. As a matter of fact, the paradigm shifts as described above stand as a reflection of a series of changes in China and the U.S., as well as the bilateral relations, including the changes of power balance, foreign policy-making circumstances on both sides, primary motives behind their respective approaches to the bilateral relationship, patterns of interactions between the two countries, and the impact of Sino-U.S. relationship on international affairs. Furthermore, changes occurred to China, the U.S., as well as their bilateral ties also mirror some of the major adjustments in international politics in the post-Cold War era, such as shifting power balance among major powers, changing pattern of interactions between the East and the West, salience of global governance issues, as well as the accelerating evolution in the international system and international order.
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