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Selected Online Reading on China's External Policy

Find a list of selected books, electronic books and articles, online databases, newswires and training sessions to enhance your knowledge from home.

Selected e-articles

Publisher’s note: This article addresses the central question of why China and the European Union (EU), two players of growing importance in global governance, cooperate on some issues of conflict resolution, but fail to do so on others. Although much discussion is devoted to their respective strategic orientations and policy preferences in world affairs, more deep-rooted factors like norms and values should also be taken into consideration. This article follows a social constructivist approach to explicate how international norms have shaped the convergent and divergent actions of China and the EU in two empirical cases: the Iranian nuclear issue and the Syrian civil crisis. It argues that because China and the EU had both internalized the international norm of multilateralism, they could cooperate in pushing for a political solution to the Iranian nuclear issue through multilateral negotiations, and take a similar approach to the Syrian civil crisis. However, whereas China has seriously questioned the ‘responsibility to protect’ as a legitimate norm, the EU has embraced and promoted it. Consequently, the two took divergent actions in the second case. It is suggested that China and its Western partners closely engage each other in constructive communication to promote mutual understanding, and ultimately expand the basis of their common norms.


Publisher’s note: Ein Wandel in der Chinapolitik der Europäischen Union zeichnet sich ab. Noch nie hat die Europäische Union eine derart deutliche Positionsbestimmung europäischer Interessen vorgelegt, wie dies in der gemeinsamen Mitteilung der Europäischen Kommission und der Hohen Vertreterin der Union für Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik mit dem Titel „EU-China – Strategische Perspektiven“ vom 12. März 2019 zum Ausdruck kommt. Darin wird festgestellt, dass die Volksrepublik China ein „Kooperationspartner“ und „Verhandlungspartner“ der Europäischen Union sei, mit dem „abgestimmte Ziele verfolgt“ und ein „Interessenausgleich“ gefunden werden müsse. Zugleich sei China „ein wirtschaftlicher Konkurrent in Bezug auf technologische Führung und ein Systemrivale, der alternative Governance-Modelle propagiert“. In dem Strategiedokument finden sich zehn Maßnahmen, wie die Europäische Union ihre Chinapolitik künftig gestalten will. Es scheint, als beabsichtigten die supranationalen Institutionen und die EU-Mitgliedstaaten, nunmehr einen wesentlich realistischeren und pragmatischeren Ansatz in den Beziehungen zu China zu verfolgen. Dies könnte als Umbruch einer als naiv bezeichneten europäischen Chinapolitik interpretiert werden.


Publisher’s note: For decades, contradicting foreign policy principles, including state sovereignty, territorial integrity, and non-interference have hindered cooperation between the EU and China beyond the economic realm. However, since the establishment of the EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation (2013) we observe a shift towards cooperation. For instance, China and the EU have expressed the desire to collaborate on security issues in the Middle East. The paper argues that although EU and China follow different trajectories in the Middle East, they play complementary roles for the region’s security. It takes a role-theoretic perspective to assess the changing security roles of the EU and China in the Middle East, ascribed to them by external and internal expectations and shows in two exemplary cases the complementarity of the EU’s and China’s roles in the region. The analysis draws on policy documents, expert interviews and secondary literature. The paper concludes with a discussion of the findings against the backdrop of growing tensions between the EU and China.


Publisher’s note: As part of the institutional reform plan of the State Council approved by the 13th National People’s Congress, a new aid agency, China International Development Cooperation Agency was inaugurated in April 2018. As the first such agency in the country's history, its establishment will bring about a major change in the implementation structure of China’s foreign aid. It is important to follow and understand how China will improve and increase its foreign aid. This article reviews the current status of China’s foreign aid: forms and implementation structure, aid policies, volume of aid, and future challenges.


Publisher’s note: Le lancement en 2013 des « Nouvelles routes de la soie » par Xi Jin-ping constitue l’un des phénomènes géopolitiques majeurs de la décen-nie qui s’achève. Ce projet au long cours, dénommé officiellement « yi dai yi lu », est une étape majeure de l’affirmation chinoise dans les rela-tions internationales. Il est prévu que la réalisation de ces « Nouvelles routes de la soie » s’achève en 2049, année hautement symbolique du centenaire de la République populaire de Chine. Le gouvernement chi-nois entend multiplier la construction d’infra-structures dans l’énergie, les transports et les télécommunications dans plus de 80 pays, en s’appuyant sur le savoir-faire de ses entreprises et sur les réserves de change accumulées grâce à plusieurs années d’excédents de la balance commerciale. Depuis lors, la montée en puissance chinoise est abon-damment commentée, suscitant crainte et admiration.


Publisher’s note: This article offers an explorative comparative analysis of the impact of the European Union (EU)’s and China’s development assistance towards Central Asia. Drawing on document analysis and in-depth interviews with stakeholders, the article explores to what extent the assistance provided by the EU and China has an impact on the ground. The article concludes that the EU’s development assistance to Central Asia fails to have a significant impact, despite the EU having spent a considerable amount of funding in the region throughout the past two decades. In turn, China’s foreign aid to Central Asia is more pervasive, and has a tangible impact on the ground. However, the positive impact of China’s assistance, not least improved living standards as a result of enhanced transport and electricity infrastructure, is being offset by the negative implications of its increased involvement, including deepening economic and financial dependency.


Publisher`s note: Mediation diplomacy has emerged as one of the central pillars of China’s foreign policy objectives and practice, with Beijing deliberately positioning itself as a peacemaker in the MENA region. This study evaluates China’s role as a regional peacemaker by examining Beijing’s growing engagement with bringing about a peaceful resolution to the MENA disputes. Specifically, this study seeks to examine whether or not China’s mediation efforts in the MENA region augur a shift in China’s non-intervention principle and practice. The study findings show that China’s mediation role is part of a carefully devised strategy that suits the country’s non-intervention policy framework. Therefore, China’s mediation efforts in the MENA conflicts are mostly aimed at constructive conflict management rather than conflict resolution.


Publisher`s note: This paper describes the status quo of China-Middle East and North Africa (MENA) relations in the early 2000s, identifies the Arab Spring as a pivot point in Chinese engagement in the region, and notes increasingly proactive Chinese diplomacy in the region in the past few years. Even if Beijing harbors no hegemonic ambitions along the lines of a post-Cold War United States, its far-flung economic interests mean that conflicts in the MENA have direct implications for Chinese affairs. Thus, China’s role in the MENA is evolving from status-quo observing to proactive engagement in order to address the mounting challenges in the region multilaterally. We conclude by suggesting that sustaining this kind of proactive engagement requires the foreign-policy infrastructure and international goodwill to do so. If China seeks to further expand its economic footprint in the region, it will need to invest more in knowledge production and academic study regarding the MENA, increase targeted development assistance to the region, and re-evaluate how it responds to major regional conflicts, both in terms of protecting its own interests and citizens and in terms of promoting peacebuilding and conflict resolution in the region.


Publisher`s note: Environmental changes in the Arctic region attract global attention. China, with its growing power, has been steadily increasing its presence in the region and in January 2018 published its first Arctic policy paper. At the same time, there are numerous actors within China that are interested in the Arctic and have the capacity to influence China’s Arctic decision-making process. However, what is less clear, is how China’s Arctic policy is being formulated across the Chinese government and what role different subnational actors play in its formulation and implementation. This research seeks to fill this gap. Drawing on fieldwork and Chinese texts, this study aspires to further develop our understanding of the workings behind Chinese state policy formation.


Publisher`s note: On May 26th, 2015, China published its 10th Defense White Paper which integrated 'open seas protection', along with 'offshore waters defense', into its naval strategy. This shift in naval strategy, albeit largely anticipated, raises a series of important questions about China's maritime ambitions. This article seeks to analyze the causes, nature and challenges of China's latest shift in naval strategy, and its implications for Sino-US maritime relations. The article argues that China's latest shift in naval strategy is a logical corollary of the tension between China's expanding global interests and its asymmetric approach to sea power, and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) provides the necessary stimulus and justification for such a shift. China's new naval strategy, the paper contends, denotes that it will develop a Mahanian blue-water navy and a basic network of overseas bases in the years ahead. Those two developments are expected to pose a series of significant challenges for China's foreign policy. The article argues that China's new naval strategy presents both challenges and opportunities for China and the world. To accomplish 'open seas protection', China will probably have to modify its policies on a range of issues, and moderate its competitive stance in the near seas. Although China's new naval strategy need not be interpreted in a competitive framework, it does present China with a stark choice: either it pursues more friendly attitudes towards its maritime ambitions by modifying its current policy, or it will be increasingly confronted by a coalition of hostile states.


Publisher`s note: The author puts forth an analytical framework called party-state realism for understanding how policy makers in the People’s Republic of China approach foreign policy. It has four defining characteristics. In order of importance, they are: putting the interests of the Communist Party at the core of China’s national interest calculation; and on this basis adopting an instrumentalist approach; adopting a party-centric nationalism; and adhering to a neoclassical realist assessment of the country’s place in the international system and its relative material power in advancing national interest. In this conception, the putting of the Chinese Communist Party’s interest at the core of national interest is a constant, not a variable, factor. This does not mean the changing international context and relative national power are irrelevant, just that they take secondary importance.


Publisher`s note: The US-China relationship continues to be characterized by both competition and cooperation in recent years. Cooperation in the development sector is one little-known new aspect of such cooperation. This paper therefore examines why and how the two superpowers have undertaken cooperation in trilateral aid projects, and implications for bilateral relations. By tracing China-US policy engagement on development cooperation and examining their most recent trilateral aid project in the Asia-Pacific region, the paper argues that the US aims to use trilateral aid cooperation to engage with China and shape it into a responsible stakeholder, while China uses trilateral cooperation to build a cooperative image and facilitate the broad China-US relationship.

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