Accommodation in the Shadow of Hierarchy

Explaining which Countries Welcome China’s Rise

Working Paper with Scott Kastner



Across the globe, states vary greatly in their willingness to accommodate China’s interests. How can we explain this variation? Recent studies look to economic dependence theories for answers, but the conclusions of these studies are mixed. We argue that states’ accommodative postures are contingent on the nature of the issue at stake, as well as the position of a particular country within different dimensions of the contemporary US-led global order.

When China’s interests challenge established liberal norms, countries that are more marginalized in the liberal political order are likely to support China. When China’s interests directly threaten US military interests, states’ position in the US security hierarchy shapes their response. When states are marginalized in the global economic order, they are more likely to be accommodating across a range of issue areas.

Employing novel measures of the liberal political order, economic order and US security hierarchy, we test our hypotheses on a data set of countries’ responses to China’s 2005 Anti-Secession Law, the 2008 crackdown in Tibet, and the 2016 South China Sea UN Tribunal. Our findings indicate that while integration into the liberal world order strongly and consistently predicts who accommodates China, a state’s position in the US security hierarchy performs less well.

Tentative Results

Predicted Probability of Supporting China’s Position in 2016 UN Tribunal. Based on country’s satisfaction with current economic situation (left) and position in international Liberal Order (right).

Evan Jones
PhD Student in Government & Politics