With little fanfare, Beijing has recently taken an unusually moderate approach in the seas surrounding its territory. With the friendlier policy, the country hopes to restore its tarnished image in East Asia and reduce the temptation for Washington to take a more active role there.
Fravel's is an elegant argument that works well to explain Chinese behavior during territorial disputes with all of its 14 land neighbors and six sea neighbors. and holds promise for application elsewhere.
The recent crisis over North Korea's nuclear weapons has had at least one unexpected aspect: the crucial -- and highly effective -- intervention of Beijing. China's steady diplomacy is a sign of how much things have changed in the country, which has long avoided most international affairs. Recently, China has begun to embrace regional and global institutions it once shunned and take on the responsibilities that come with great-power status. Just what the results of Beijing's new sophistication will be remains to be seen; but Asia, and the world, will never be the same.