Fighting for reputation: China's deterrence policy and concerns about credibility
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States under threat may choose to initiate war not only because their interests are hurt, but also because they want to establish or defend their credibility, so that they do not have to fight later wars. This dissertation looks at deterrence situations where the defender of the status quo responds to challenges with force and links its concern with credibility to the decision. When states are expressly worried about the repercussions of backing down, they are more likely to fight. By shining a spotlight on the defender rather than the challenger, this study enriches the discussion on why and how deterrence fails. By linking the decision to fight to a concern about reputation, this study also provides a new framework for analyzing deterrence and foreign policy. In addition, the dissertation joins the debate on Chinese use of force. All three case studies cast China as the defender that ultimately decided to fight the challenger decisively. In each case, aside from the real and perceived security interests at stake, China's concern with its reputation for resolve contributed to the decision. The reputation for resolve became a security interest in and of itself, serving to dispel future infringements and well worth fighting for. China was particularly worried about its reputation when it feared a collusion of foreign and domestic enemies and sought to internalize the lesson that fighting now means enjoying peace later. This study uses in-depth, qualitative case studies with a heavy reliance on textural analysis of first and secondary sources. The three case studies are China's intervention in the Korean War in 1950, China's border war with India in 1962, and Sino-Soviet clashes in 1969. While only three case studies are selected, they are structured along the same questions on deterrence and credibility to focus the reader's attention on the hypothesis. The case studies are selected because they were robust tests; they were all drawn-out deterrence situations in which Chinese leaders pondered explicitly on the role of credibility.