Strategic choices of geopolitical rimland powers and the success and failure of their rise


(1.Situation and Policy Research Center of Harbin Engineering University, China Foreign Affairs University, Harbin 150001)

【Abstract】The international system is a complex interactive system of interests. There are numerous strategic-level implementing-feedback modes in the system. The geopolitical powers' selection of security strategies determines their interactions with other major members of the system. The way of interactions determines possible structural pressures faced by the powers and ultimately affects the result of their rise. Through this study, the following can be found. The strategic mode of the rising rimland power can be divided into the “regional land power” strategy, “global sea power” strategy and the “regional/global land and sea power” strategy. If the rising great power has not yet formed a solid land-based surrounding environment, then the pursuit of the “regional land power” strategy is the best choice. If there is a stable land-based surrounding environment, the pursuit of the “global sea power” strategy is the best option. Due to the principle of “same color competition,” countries that adopt the “land and sea power” strategy may fall into a security dilemma with neighboring countries in competing for "regional land power" or into a war with “global sea powers.” Therefore, the “land and sea power” strategy is apt to create alliances of sea powers against those who adopt it. In addition, the pursuit of a single “color complementary” principle is apt to make strategic alliances, thereby affecting the implementation of the rising strategy of great powers.

【Keywords】 geopolitics; security strategy; rising strategy; Sino-US relations;


【Funds】 Key Project of National Social Science Fund (14AGJ002) The Think Tank Project of National Security and Defense funded by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (HEUCFZ1614)

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    [1]. ① In the heyday of Spanish Empire during the reign of Philip II (1527 to 1598), the country was dragged into huge strategic burdens on both land and sea for a long time. From 1555 to 1598, it only enjoyed a transient peace of six months, and on February 9, 1577, wars in Netherlands and the Mediterranean all ended. The emperor has never started big wars against Turkey ever since but against Netherlands, Britain, Atlantic islands, America, France, and the Dutch in Africa and South Asia later. Refer to Geoffrey Parker. The Grand Strategy of Philip II. Yale University Press, p. 25. [^Back]

    [2]. ① Alfred von Tirpitz was the admiral of German Empire and he proposed first the risk theory of German Navy, advocating strongly developing grand naval forces to strengthen Germany’s international influence. He was highly regarded by the German Emperor Wilhelm II who was obsessed with sea power and ocean fleet. In 1911, Tirpitz was appointed as the commander-in-chief, the navy marshal. Alfred Graf von Schlieffen was the Chief of the General Staff of the German military in 1891, and was promoted as the marshal in 1911. He raised the Schlieffen Plan of defeating France and Russia one by one to achieve dominance in Europe. [^Back]

    [3]. ① According to Greek Mythology, Antaeus is the son of Gaia, the Earth Goddess and Poseidon, the God of Sea. As long as he touched the earth, he can get infinite power from his mother. Herakles, the greatest hero in Greek Mythology, found out the secret when he passed Libya. In their fighting, Herakles raised Antaeus up from the ground so that Antaeus could not gain power from Gaia, and at last strangled him to death. [^Back]

    [4]. ① The Anglo-Portuguese alliance is the oldest military alliance that is still active. The Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1373 was signed between King Edward III of England and King Ferdinand of Portugal. It was reinforced throughout history. The treaty was temporarily void during the Iberian Union from 1580 to 1640, when the Portuguese emperor was died in battle and the Spanish king took the throne as his grandson, namely, the monarchies of Spain and Portugal were in a dynastic union. However, with Portugal’s restoration of independence, the alliance resumed and came to a new height during the Napoleonic wars (Peninsular War). Different from the Netherlands which was in a war against Louis XIV on land during 1672–1678 and against Britain on sea during the same time, Portugal was not invaded by its neighboring power Spain due to its alliance with Britain. [^Back]


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This Article


CN: 22-1180/C

Vol 25, No. 02, Pages 23-36+127

March 2016


Article Outline


  • 1 Key variable: security mode and major powers' rise and fall
  • 2 Moderator variable: alliances and rise and fall
  • 3 Conclusion
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