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Program on US-China Relations

The Program on US-China Relations (PUCR) seeks to develop an extensive academic and policy-contingent network and create a hub of research and exchange with regard to US-China relations. In order to provide a forum for active academic exchange and policy dialogue between researchers at home and abroad, the Program holds monthly seminars and policy workshops and conducts various research projects. In 2016, PUCR carried out a project on power transition, publishing a volume entitled International Politics of Peaceful Power Transition (SNU Press).

Research Topics

The primary research direction of PUCR is in the analysis of the rise of China and the possibility of a power transition between the US and China as well as empirical study of the influence of US-China relations on East Asia in general and Korea specifically. In 2015 and 2016, the Program conducted research into the implications of the precedent of the peaceful power transition between Britain and the US in the 19th and 20th centuries for US-China relations in the 21st century. The project sought out the necessary conditions for a peaceful power transition by looking into the problems of changes in mutual perception caused by shifts in military power and the rivalry over financial hegemony, which were experienced by Britain and the US a century ago and are likely to arise again in the US-China relations in the 21st century.

As “ego-fighting” between the US and China is intensifying day by day—as seen in conflicts over the South China Sea, the Korean peninsula, Taiwan, and the East China Sea—PURC also examined the current strategic dilemma befalling Korea as it strives to maintain an alliance with the US while pursuing a partnership with China and considered policies to adequately deal with this dilemma.

Major Research Outcomes

The major research outcome of PUCR in 2016 is the publication of International Politics of Peaceful Power Transition (SNU Press). The first Korean work dealing with an important topic of mutual perceptions between a hegemon and a rising power, this book is an intriguing investigation of the preconditions for a peaceful transition process, comparing the case of the power transition between Britain and the US in the 19th and 20th centuries and US-China relations in the 21st century.

Another achievement of PUCR in 2016 is the hosting of seven monthly seminars and six academic and policy workshops, inviting scholars from the US, China, and Japan. The Program conducted several workshops and round tables regarding the dilemma of Korea in the midst of rocky US-China relations on such issues as RCEP, TPP, AIIB, CICA, participation in China’s Victory Day celebrations, THAAD, and the South China Sea. Other meaningful results include the hosting of a workshop with Peking University’s School of International Studies and the Institute of American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences as well as the Fourth Korea-Japan Dialogue on US-China Relations and East Asian Security jointly organized with the Policy Alternatives Research Institute (PARI) of the Univ. of Tokyo.

Outlook and Tasks for the Future

In 2017 and 2018, PUCR is planning to conduct research under the theme of “East Asian Response to US-China Strategic Competition.” Its purpose is to determine what kind of stance fifteen East Asian countries, including the ten countries of ASEAN, have taken in response to the rise of China and US reengagement in the region and what factors are leading to the behavioral variations between the countries. In particular, the Program seeks to analyze the factors that influence the choice of balancing, bandwagoning, and hedging with regard to China. Part of the project is finding academic and policy implications for Korea, which is facing the most serious strategic dilemma in its relationship with the US and China. The program will invite international scholars to share their insights on the topic through monthly seminars and workshops.


Doohwan Ahn (2016). From Hanover to Gibraltar: Cato’s Letters (1720-23) in International Context. History of European Ideas (A&HCi) Vol. 42, No. 8

Jae-Ho Chung (2016). Is South Korea in China’s Orbit?. Asia Policy No. 21 (Co-authored with Jiyoon Kim)

Jae-Ho Chung (2016) <Centrifugal Empire: Central-Local Relations in China>. New York: Columbia University Press

Hun Joon Kim (2016). The Globalization of Human Rights and State Sovereignty: The Role of Transitional Justice in Developing International Human Rights Norms. Korean Political Science Review Vol. 50, No. 3

Hun Joon Kim (2016). The Role of UN Commissions of Inquiry in Developing Global Human Rights: Prospects and Challenges. The Korean Journal of International Studies Vol. 14, No. 2

Hun Joon Kim (2016). Will IR Theory with Chinese Characteristic be a Powerful Alternate? The Chinese Journal of International Politics Vol. 9, No. 1

Jae-Ho Chung (2016). < International Politics of Peaceful Power Transition>. SNUPRESS


Jae-Ho Chung (Dept. of Political Science and Int’l Relations)

Hunjoon Kim (Korea Univ.)
Doohwan Ahn (Dept. of Political Science and Int’l Relations)

Research Assistants:
Wenyang Hao (Dept. of political Science and Int’l Relations)
Hanna Lee (Dept. of Political Science and Int’l Relations)