Chinese Leaders’ Perceptions of the United States and the Impact on Cross-Strait Relations

Leo S.F. Lin

The University of Southern Mississippi, USA

Keywords: Chinese leaders’ perception, US-China relations, Cross-strait relations


This paper asks two questions. First, how do Chinese leaders perceive the United States as a major power, and second, how might such perception affect the cross-strait relations involving the US? To answer the two questions, this author adopts the key concepts provided by Andrew Scobell (2014), who argued that two faces of strategic culture affect Chinese leaders’ perception, including a country’s self-image and strategic culture involving the image of other countries. Chinese leaders describe other states as more focused on aggressive and disreputable intentions toward China. This author employs a pattern-matching research methodology and compares the theoretical and observed patterns. The result shows that Chinese leaders tend to have negative images of the US. Next, this author examines a specific case in the cross-strait relations involving the US after October 1, 2021, during which China sent warplanes entering the southwestern part of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) to showcase their determination to protect its territorial integrity and sovereignty. The study confirmed that Chinese leaders tend to deal with cross-strait relations based on the perception that the US is an aggressive and offensive competitor that would impede China’s agenda to unify Taiwan.


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