Publication Date



Helms School of Government


International Relations


Thirty-Six Stratagems, Diaoyu, Senkaku, China, Japan, People's Republic of China, People's Liberation Army


Asian History | Asian Studies | Chinese Studies | Comparative Literature | History of the Pacific Islands | International Law | International Relations | Japanese Studies | Political History


The Diaoyu Islands are a small, uninhabited archipelago in the East China Sea which has begun increasing in strategic significance due to its advantageous location near Taiwan and along the First Island Chain. The islands are currently under Japanese administration, but the People’s Republic of China considers them historically Chinese and contests Japan’s claim to the islands. A careful examination of China’s actions in challenging Japan’s rule over the Diaoyus reveals the influence of the Thirty-Six Stratagems, a tome of ancient Chinese military wisdom which provides a framework onto which China’s current strategy corresponds. This thesis examines the historical and cultural influence of the Thirty-Six Stratagems and maps the wisdom onto China’s actions in the Diaoyus. Thus, projection of future strategy and deterring actions can be developed to discourage Chinese belligerence in the East China Sea.