Peer-reviewed publications


Managing Small Allies Amidst Patron-Adversary Rapprochement: A Tale of Two Koreas,” Asian Security, online Dec 10, 2018.

What explains variation in how a patron manages its existing alliance with a client state when improving relations with an adversary? I theorize that the patron’s alliance management strategy is influenced by the client’s degree of bargaining power over its patron. Bargaining power derives from the availability of an outside option. Using archival and interview evidence, I show variation in alliance bargaining dynamics during U.S.-China rapprochement. While the United States was dismissive toward South Korea, China was highly placating toward North Korea, making concessions and providing compensation. However, China became more dismissive during Sino-South Korean normalization, when North Korea’s bargaining power decreased. The findings have important policy implications for understanding how a patron could simultaneously manage alliance and adversary relationships.

More than Peripheral: How Provinces Influence China’s Foreign Policy,” The China Quarterly 235 (September 2018).

Most analyses of China’s foreign and security policies treat China as a unitary actor, assuming a cohesive grand strategy articulated by Beijing. I challenge this conventional wisdom, showing how Chinese provinces can affect the formulation and implementation of foreign policy. This contributes to existing research on the role of subnational actors in China, which has focused on how they shape domestic and economic policies. Using Hainan and Yunnan as case studies, I identify three mechanisms of provincial influence – trailblazing, carpetbagging, and resisting – and illustrate them with examples of key provincial policies. This analysis provides a more nuanced argument than is commonly found in international relations for the motivations behind evolving and increasingly activist Chinese foreign policy. It also has important policy implications for understanding and responding to Chinese behaviour, in the South China Sea and beyond.

Comparing Japanese and South Korean Strategies toward China and the United States: All Politics is Local,” Asian Survey 55:6 (November/December 2015).

Japan and South Korea have had differing patterns of responding to China’s rise and aligning with the United States. This can be explained by shifting threat perceptions based on interactions between evolving systemic and local threats, from both China and North Korea, as well as their relative degrees of imminence.

Working Papers

Authoritarian Environmental Governance Cycles(under review, with Meir Alkon)

We develop a theory to explain the persistence of tensions between decentralized delegation and centralized control of environmental governance in authoritarian regimes. Economic benefits from decentralization -- information, competition, and efficiency -- conflict with environmental goals of centralized policy harmonization and management of inter-jurisdictional externalities. Decentralization to local government actors can facilitate economic growth but also empowers them in ways that undermine environmental governance. Persistent tensions between decentralized and centralized imperatives generate cycles in environmental and energy systems governance. We test our theory of authoritarian environmental governance cycles using the case of China's power sector, drawing on evidence from primary source documents, field interviews, and multiple data sources on the development and distribution of energy generating capacity. We focus on two policy areas -- coal-fired power and wind energy -- that are integral to central government efforts to improve the quality of environmental governance. This research explains the puzzling alternations in the locus of governance, and contributes to understanding inter-governmental relations and environmental politics in authoritarian regimes.