“Chinese assertiveness” has become an infamous phrase – it is regularly used by media, pundits, and politicians, yet there is little scholarly work that would clarify the meaning of the concept. A similar situation exists when it comes to China’s power. Although it is generally assumed that “China is rising,” there are surprisingly few systematic studies of China’s power being done comprehensively and rigorously.
As such, we have ended up with the proposition that China is “assertive” and that the ongoing “power shift” is the reason why. In reality, we do not know which Chinese actions, precisely, fall within the “assertive” label or what this label actually means. Similarly, we do not know how much power China has acquired, and we are not even sure how to assess China’s power. Worse, there is not even much ongoing discussion about these questions.