Rising China, pivotal middle power South Korea, and alliance transition theory

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14 Citations (Scopus)


The alliance transition theory is developed by incorporating the pivotal middle power’s role into Organski’s power transition theoretical framework. The theory posits that the situation of parity of alliance power between the dominant power’s alliance camp and the rising dissatisfied challenger’s camp is likely to lead to major war; and, further, that the pivotal middle power is able not only to help reinforce the dominant state’s power preponderance over its potential challenger but also to play a mediating role of persuading the rising potential challenger to be more satisfied with the status quo. Applying the alliance transition arguments to the East Asian region, the theory suggests that a pivotal middle power such as South Korea can be a crucial addition to the United States’ capabilities to maintain its preponderance of power over the potential challenger, the People’s Republic of China. Together with other like-minded middle powers, the Republic of Korea, as a key regional ally of the United States, can also play the constructive role of persuading China to be a responsible member of the status quo system, by engaging substantially with China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-265
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Area Studies Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Sept 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was partly supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea(NRF) project # 20132327001.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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