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China's Foreign Policy: Grand Strategy in a Changing International Order

Speakers: Mr. Mahumd Ali,Prof Shaun Breslin, Prof Barry Buzan,Prof Michael Cox, Mr. Jonathan Fenby, Prof Rosemary Foot, Prof Francois Godement, Prof Chris Hughes,Mr Guy de Jonqiuere, Prof Yuen F Khong, Dr Liu Dong, Dr. Ramon Pardo-Pacheco, Mr. Yang Jun, Prof Arne Westad (Chair) , Dr Suzzanne Yang (Chair), Ms Yu Jie (Chair), Prof Gordon Barrass (Chair)

Thursday 19th January 2012, 9:30am-6pm COL 2.01, Columbia House, LSE

This event is a closed event and by invitation only.

LSE IDEAS East Asia International Affair Programme and King's College China Institute have successfully co-hosted a one day workshop to bring together a group of leading China experts and policy practitioners from across Europe and China. They identified and analysed the dynamics and new characteristics of the Chinese foreign policy and its development over the last decade, particularly in the years since the 2008 Olympics. 

Summary of the Event:

Session 1: Assertiveness vs. Arrogance: New Perceptions from the West on Chinese Diplomacy

Speakers: Prof Yuen Foong Khong, Mr Yang Jun, Prof Barry Buzan and Mr Jonathan Fenby (Chair)

Yuen Foong Khong is Professor of International Relations, and Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford University

Whose perception? Whose strategy?

Using the recent US pivot to Asia as the starting point, 'negative peace' in the region would be a pretty good outcome. The view that China's assertive behavior led to Western reaction is partly correct; some Chinese action was assertive and arrogant. But did this trigger US action? The pivot is consistent with the US grand strategy which has since 1992 aimed at preventing the rise of a peer-competitor. Chinese assertiveness suits the US and its Asian allies fine and defends the extension of US primacy. The pivot does not reflect a US return to contain China but a reassertion of the US hegemony. With a stronger and more resilient material base, China felt confident to articulate its interests; but had it not been assertive, even then the USA would refocus on Asia. Post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan distracted the USA; George Bush neglected the ASEAN. But as these wars end, the USA refocuses on Asia. T he proponent of 'soft power,' Joseph Nye, set the 'engage but hedge' framework in the early 1990s; the policy enjoys bipartisan support in Congress. The US alliance system, especially the Quadrilateral Dialogue with Japan, Australia and India, seen in their naval exercise with Singapore in 2007, reflected China's neighbours' anxious welcome to US presence. The pivot is not to counter China, but to assert US long-term primacy in keeping with strategic goals set in the 1990s. China interprets this US strategy as one of encirclement.

Barry Buzan: is Senior Fellow at LSE IDEAS, Emeritus Professor in the LSE Department of International Relations, and a Fellow of the British Academy.

Re-considering China's peaceful rise

Realist determinism is not necessarily correct – China has choices as it rises. China's peaceful rise is as opposed to a warlike rise as experienced by Germany, Japan and Russia. Peaceful rise could be either 'warm peaceful' or 'cold peaceful.' The USA and the European Union rose following the warm peaceful path; India, Pakistan and Israel are rising along the cold peaceful path. Which path will China choose? Some of China's choices are benign – its commitment to global economic engagement and integration, absence of ideological impositions, a restrained military rise, free trade agreements with ASEAN and others, multilateral institutional engagements, and steady purchase of US Treasury bill, for instance. But other activities are negative. Hyper-nationalistic rhetoric emanating from civil society raises doubts about the depth of peacefulness and whether the rhetoric is deceptive. The stance towards Japan, helping Pakistan in South Asia's nuclear rivalry, bellicosity on territorial issues vis-à-vis India and the South China Sea, a US-like approach to climate-change, economic nationalism with its emphasis on state-owned enterprises, and a bullying image apparent over recent years feed into uncertainties about the future China. China offers insufficient ground for total acceptance. It is at a 1978-like cross-roads – it successfully built market-communism since then; will it now go ahead and build pluralist communism?

Yang Jun is Political Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy of the United Kingdom.

China's peacful development is sincere and real

International focus and media commentary betray deep anxiety of the west about the rising China.. This anxiety is unwarranted. China has consistently vowed that it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons, will not seek hegemony, and that its rise will be peaceful. However, many Europeans and Americans are still worried about China's foreign policy future evolvement. This kind of anxiety is rooted in Western practice of judging China using their own historical experience and frameworks which suggest that a 'risen' China will be hegemonic. But China is developing along the trajectory set by its own cultural and historical experience – shaped by an emphasis on peace and harmony. China is heading towards a future akin to the Tang dynasty – a benign and open regime which greatly favoured foreigners. The Ming Dynastry Admiral Zheng He's seven expeditions showcased not just China's wealth and maritime prowess, but also its non-aggressive approach to the world. This approach is key to China's domestically and economically focused developmental drive. To meet the needs of more than 1.3bn people whose per-capita income, at $5,000 or so, is around the 100th in the world – China needs peace at home and abroad. International Cooperation is essential in a globalised and increasingly multipolar world. Peaceful development will consistently remain central to China's rise.'

Session Two on China's Foreign Policy: Grand Strategy in a Changing International Order

Session Three on China's Foreign Policy: Grand Strategy in a Changing International Order

Session Four on China's Foreign Policy: Grand Strategy in a Changing International Order