Despite the numerous economic and social challenges facing the country, China has managed to retain a high degree of assertiveness, as shown in Figure 4. This is a result of both economic growth and a high level of political stability. In addition, China has managed to maintain a relatively low rate of violent crime, a factor that prompted the United States to grant the country a permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council. The country also possesses a low rate of corruption, making it a good choice for investment.

Figure 1

Listed above is a chart of sorts that shows you which of the following countries and cities have the highest per capita assertiveness. The list of notable countries includes the United Kingdom, Australia, and South Korea. The most notable cities include London, Singapore, and Seoul. In terms of assertiveness, South Korea was in the lead, followed by the United Kingdom and Australia. The aforementioned nations are followed by Thailand and Japan. A brief statistical analysis revealed that each country’s assertions-to-affiliation ratio ranked in alphabetical order. While the following countries are all worthy of note, each has its own distinct set of attributes. In a nutshell, the most notable differences between countries are in the number of people in each institution, in terms of number of hours worked, and in the cost of services rendered.

Figure 2

Maritime disputes between states have long been associated with assertive behavior, whether through verbal statements, military deployments, or infrastructural projects. However, there has not been a systematic conceptualization of assertiveness, nor a long-term study of changes in its behavior. This article develops a framework to understand the concept of assertiveness, and applies original data on China’s actions in the South China Sea from 1970 to 2015 to quantify changes in behavior.

There are four primary types of assertive actions. Each is differentiated by its nature of coercion. For example, actions that directly interfere with a state’s resource survey are classified as coercive. However, other actions, such as threats of punishment, may also be classified as coercive.

These four types of assertive behavior are also classified into ordinal typologies. The first typology measures the frequency of each type of assertive action, while the second measures its intensity. This typology explains shifts in behavior over time, and demonstrates important descriptive findings.

For example, the PRC has been advancing its position in disputes in the South China Sea almost every year since 1970. This trend has been driven by changes in international norms, which may lead to new assertive behavior by other claimants. The PRC has also responded coercively to Southeast Asian countries.

In the South China Sea, PRC assertiveness has been characterized by a cycle of four periods of rapid acceleration. The first period began in 1970 and continued until 2006. The next two periods followed. The rapid acceleration periods spanned the years from 1973 to 1975 and from 1987 to 1989. In the period from 2007 to 2012, the PRC’s assertive behavior was the most intense since 1970.

Figure 3

During the past four years, China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea has intensified. However, this is not a new phenomenon. Rather, it represents the PRC’s fourth major push in the South China Sea since 1970. In this article, I use original data on China’s actions in the South China Sea from 1970 to 2015 to analyze how its assertiveness has evolved. This article engages existing works on the subject, provides new insights into the PRC’s policymaking process, and illustrates how assertive behaviors can be understood in a wider context.

First, I provide an overview of assertiveness as a concept, and define its meaning. Then I disaggregate assertiveness into four different types of behaviors. These behaviors include the use of force, verbal statements, official claims, and legal-administrative acts. Finally, I analyze how these behaviors have changed over time, and how they affect the position of competing claimants.

The first type of assertive behavior is a statement. These statements are often considered evidence in international legal proceedings. They include remarks by state officials and submissions to international authorities. They can also include changes in domestic administrative arrangements. They typically stay in effect for perpetuity, but may trigger official protests from other states.

The second type of assertive behavior is a demonstration. These behaviors include patrolling a disputed area or interfering with another state’s resource survey. This type of action often leads to a subsequent increase in activity.

The third type of assertive behavior is a coercive action. These behaviors involve the use of force, as well as threats of punishment. They can include direct interference with another state’s construction project. This type of action engages the opponent’s domestic competence, and places its leadership under political pressure.

Figure 5

Among the countries with a high degree of assertiveness are Japan, Mexico, Austria, Thailand, Italy, and South Korea. However, the level of assertiveness differs among these countries, and a country’s degree of assertiveness is characterized by its degree of power distance, uncertainty avoidance, and collectivism. In this article, we will analyze these factors and explore the sources of China’s assertiveness.

Power distance refers to the unequal distribution of power between individuals and groups. In a society with a high degree of power distance, individuals expect that power is concentrated in a few individuals or organizations, and they accept this distribution. Conversely, individuals in a society with a low degree of power distance expect that power is distributed unequally among all individuals and groups. In contrast, individuals in a society with a high degree of collectivism focus on the welfare of the group rather than individual members.

The degree of assertiveness is characterized by a country’s degree of power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism, and collectivism. Figure 5 illustrates the differences among countries, based on each of these factors.

Chelsea Glover