Righteous War, Righteous Peace: Warfare, Chinese Strategic Culture, and Confucian Narratives of Global Political Harmony

Michael Freedman, Macalester College

Document Type


Existing literature on Chinese strategic culture has long presupposed the existence of two opposing strands of thought, a Confucian paradigm emphasizing pacifism and a Parabellum paradigm emphasizing the necessity of violence. In this work I explore this assumption by looking at several historical Chinese texts and contemporary Chinese military conflicts. I conclude that these are not two distinct paradigms but elements of a Chinese worldview that sees both violence and pacifism as important in different situations. The determining factor in China's decision to use force is the culturally endowed emphasis on preserving Chinese power in East Asia.


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