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LPS-IR206: Opening the Black Box: Understanding Chinese Foreign Policy Making

An economically more powerful and confident China is exerting unprecedented influence on global affairs with its proactive diplomacy. In order to predict and respond to China’s international behaviour, it is essential to understand the causes behind such conduct. But the very nature of the structure of Chinese society and government has made this a difficult, if not impossible, task, albeit appealing. The saying that foreign policy making is a black box is more accurate in China than in many other countries. Aiming to open the black box of Chinese foreign policy-making, this course tries to bridge foreign decision-making theories and Chinese foreign policy-making practice to understand the major factors that shape Chinese foreign policy and how they exert their influences. These include: the impact of historical legacies; systematic constraints; personality and the decision-making style of principal leaders; evolving foreign policy-making structure and changing bureaucratic process; fluid domestic politics; and the impact of the military, nationalism and public opinion on Chinese foreign policy. It will unveil how leaders coordinate domestic and international situations in foreign affairs as they always emphasize today. It intends to inform students of China’s international behavior and provide an analytical understanding of the dynamics of China’s foreign policy decision-making.

Full course outline

About the Instructor

Zhang Qingmin

Professor Zhang Qingmin is a professor in the School of International Studies, Peking University. He received his PhD from the China Foreign Affairs University and his MA from Brigham Young University in Utah, USA. He previously taught at the University of Science and Technology, Beijing and the China Foreign Affairs University, was a Senior Fulbright Visiting Scholar at George Washington University's Elliot School of International Affairs, and a visiting professor at Faculty Jean Monnet at the University Paris Sud, Niigata University, Japan and University of Palermo, Italy.

Professor Zhang Qingmin's research interests include China's foreign policy, U.S. foreign policy, and U.S.-China-Taiwan relations.