Middle powers and the rise of China : A case study of Swedish policy formulations with respect to China
Abstract: The world is currently experiencing a power transition along with China's rise as a superpower. The decline of the United States as the unipolar world-leader is one of the great debates in international relations theory. However, this debate has focused on great powers and left out the role of the middle powers. In this thesis, the premise is that middle powers have an influential position in the world order. Among these, Sweden has had little scholarly attention. This thesis analysed Sweden's middle power role and policy formulations with respect to China, and how these two dimensions have changed over the period 2001-2019. By combining middlepower theory with role theory, a content analysis of government documents is conducted in a longitudinal study. The results indicated that Sweden increasingly focuses on its role of supporting the liberal world order, compared to the emphasis on its role of good international citizenship in 2001. Sweden's tone on China also showed increasingly cautious expressions over time. This shift in Sweden's middle power role is of significance since middle powers mostly hedge as a response to China's rise. The study of middle powers contributes to the broader question of how we can understand China's rise.
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