Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Sciences

First Advisor

Prof. ZHANG Baohui

Second Advisor

Prof. CHUNG Chien Peng


The dissertation addresses the core IR problem of revisionism and relates it to both the declining superpower and the rising great power, both the United States and China. The dissertation also offers a novel conceptualization of international order in terms of which revisionism is understood. The theoretical innovation of the dissertation modifies established structural realist theories and shifts the explanatory focus from security to status. Since status, defined as social position, is composed of both power and prestige, both change in the balance of power and the balance of prestige explain revisionism, which then cause dissatisfaction in the form of status anxiety in the dominant state. This leads the dominant power to revise the international order to maintain its leading status. It then attempts to block the ascendance of the rising challenger, which frustrates the status aspirations of the rising power who responds by carving out an alternative international order that can satisfy its desire for status. The theory explains when and why revisionism relates to both the status-maintenance strategy of the declining dominant power and the status-enhancement strategy of the rising great power. The declining superpower revises to maintain, whereas the rising great power revises to enhance. The dissertation applies this insight to the positional competition for leadership in the Asia-Pacific and the struggle between alternative regional orders. The US pivot to Asia under the Obama administration exemplifies the revisionist status-maintenance strategy. China, after Xi Jinping’s assumption of power, then begins to carve out an alternative regional order. On the US side, the dissertation scrutinizes the cases of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and America’s Principled Security Network. On the Chinese side, the dissertation scrutinizes the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and China’s project for an Asian Security Order.

Recommended Citation

Åberg, J. H. S. (2017). Status, revisionism, and great power strategy: US-China positional competition and the struggle for leadership in Asia-Pacific (Doctor’s thesis, Lingnan University, Hong Kong). Retrieved from