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The basis of Confucianism is a belief that moral behavior can foster an ideal social order. Originating from the teaching of the philosopher and political theorist Confucius (known in his own time as Kong Qiu or “Master Kong,” 551–479 BCE), this ethical system is often equated with Chinese social behavior. The image of a Confucian China has given rise to assumptions that China is fundamentally opposed to war as a solution for conflict. However, patterns emerging from China’s foreign policy behavior during the course of the 20th century have suggested that Chinese leaders may not be averse to—and may even increasingly prefer—the use of force as a means of settling problems arising from domestic and international statecraft. Today, China remains the focal point of an ...

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