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New Developments in Chinese Foreign Policy.

In recent years there have been a number of important new developments in Chinese foreign policy. China has moved from seeking foreign investment and a foreign policy of relative passivity known as taoguang yanghui, or "avoiding the light while seeking obscurity," to a more robust, forward-leaning foreign policy of "going out" or turning outward, which includes investing more abroad, seeking greater and greater amounts of natural resources overseas, and adopting a much more assertive stance on territorial issues in the East and South China Seas or its Himalayan border regions, even establishing military bases on foreign soil (speaking of Chinese facilities in Djibouti). At the same time, Xi Jinping has offered the United States and other countries a "new type of great power relations" (now called the New Model of International Relations by Chinese officials), pledging that China will rise peacefully and will not repeat the mistakes of past rising powers. This special issue brings together five scholars, hailing from China, the United Kingdom, Italy, and the United States, to discuss these new developments in Chinese foreign policy.

The collection begins with "Going Global 2.0: China's Growing Investment in the West and Its Impact," by Zhiqun Zhu, which examines and explains the recent outward turn in China's growth strategy. Going Global 1.0, the first phase of China's outward investment strategy, focused primarily on the developing world from 1990 to 2005. Beginning in 2005, China accelerated its investments in developing countries. It then expanded its investment strategy to targeted Western nations with major mergers and acquisitions of prominent Western corporations, such as Geely's purchase of Volvo, Lenovo's takeover of IBM's PC division, and Haier's acquisition of General Electric's appliances business. This strategy improved Chinese capital accumulation and domestic economic development and boosted major Western economies, particularly during the global recession that began in 2008. Discussing the political implications of China's most recent turn, Zhu notes the potential for controversy and even conflict as many of China's moves become politicized.

Moving from politicization to securitization, Maria Julia Trombetta discusses China's energy security and its moves to strengthen it in recent years in her piece "Fueling Threats: Securitization and the Challenges of Chinese Energy Policy." As China's economy has grown in recent decades, so has its appetite for fossil fuels. Trombetta argues that China's leaders have securitized Chinese energy policy in recent years, with the Chinese state taking the lead. China's national oil companies are its primary actors, pursuing a more assertive energy sourcing policy, which has impacted China's broader foreign policy, its more assertive policy choices in the East and South China Seas being important examples. She makes the case that the securitization of China's energy policy has the potential to contribute to greater tensions with some of China's neighbors and the West.

Pippa Morgan's piece, "Ideology and Relationality: Chinese Aid in Africa Revisited," gives us a look at China's contemporary aid policy to Africa through the lens of China's historical African aid policy. Using quantitative analysis, she finds that China today favors African partners that were China's preferred partners in its prereform past, partners with which China had close relations and general ideological affinity. In other words, China's aid allocation does not fit the standard rational actor model, but rather a particularistic relational model, wherein decisions are driven by relational factors over standard rational factors.

Shunji Cui's "China-US Climate Cooperation: Creating a New Model of Major-Country Relations?" considers the nontraditional security dimensions of China's "new type of great power relations" initiative (again, recently retitled the New Model of Major-Country Relations). Deploying an English School global international society framework, Cui argues that the new type of great power relations proposed by China is neither an empty slogan nor a harmonious-sounding cover for more hegemonic ambitions but in fact reflects the changing nature of great power relations in the twenty-first century, with a growing international society characterized by globalization and interdependence. She analyzes Sino-American cooperation on climate change, an area of relatively close cooperation between the two since 2015, as a case in point, arguing that as China and the United States have found cooperation not only expedient but in fact almost unavoidable, so Cui is optimistic about the potential (necessity?) of Sino-American cooperation across a broad range of issues going forward in this interdependent world, leading her to marked optimism about the future of China's relations with the West.

Finally, my own contribution to the collection, "Bismarck or Wilhelm? China's Peaceful Rise vs. Its South China Sea Policy," finds a seeming contradiction between China's peaceful rise/ peaceful development on the one hand and its South China Sea policy on the other. If China wants to rise peacefully, it would do well to study the strategy of Otto von Bismarck, who oversaw the reunification and strengthening of Germany in the late nineteenth century without provoking counterbalancing or war from its neighbors. However, Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm provides another, more unfortunate example of a rising power, one that elicited counterbalancing and ultimately great power wars in the early twentieth century. China may end up repeating Wilhelm's errors if it is not careful with its South China Sea policy, for its nine-dash line and island building efforts have already brought a potential counterbalancing coalition together against it in the South China Sea.

It is clear that China's development and global reach have entered a new phase, as perhaps Zhu's piece makes most apparent, but which is evident in Trombetta's, Morgan's, Cui's, and Moore's articles as well. China is no longer the "sick man of Asia," struggling to find a place at the table of international respectability. Nor is China simply the world's sweatshop, relying solely on low-wage labor and an export-driven model of development. China has slowly transformed itself into a major force in global economics and international relations, through investments abroad, burgeoning rail links to all parts of Asia, a robust securitized energy policy, a growing physical presence in Africa and around the world, and a more assertive global maritime presence. These five pieces help us understand a bit better where China has come from, where things are presently in this process, and what is at stake for all as China's presence is increasingly felt around the world.


Gregory J. Moore is head of the School of International Studies at the University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China, where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in international relations. His research interests include international relations, IR theory, international security, methods, Chinese foreign policy, US foreign policy, Sino-American relations, East Asian IR/security, foreign policy analysis, and the North Korean nuclear issue. His articles have appeared in journals such as International Studies Review, Asian Security, Foreign Policy Analysis, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, Asian Perspective, the Journal of Contemporary China, and the Journal of Chinese Political Science. He is currently working on a book on Sino-American relations and has completed an edited volume titled North Korean Nuclear Operationality: Regional Security and Non-Proliferation (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014) and a book on the international relations thought of Reinhold Niebuhr (under review). He is a member of the (US) National Committee on United States-China Relations and a senior fellow at the China Policy Institute, University of Nottingham. He can be reached at
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Author:Moore, Gregory J.
Publication:Asian Perspective
Date:Apr 1, 2018
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