Academic journal article Insight Turkey

China's Foreign Policy

Academic journal article Insight Turkey

China's Foreign Policy

Article excerpt

In his book China's Foreign Policy, Stuart Harris, a Professor Emeritus at the Australian National University, provides insight into China's foreign policy behavior and its motivations focusing on major changes and continuities since 1949. The book consists of eight chapters. In the first chapter, in order to clarify changes and continuities in their foreign policy, the author analyses the impact of history and culture on China's foreign policy approach in general and its main elements under the leadership of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping in particular. The chapter puts an emphasis on the divergent points of view of China and the West (i.e the U.S. and its allies) towards the world affairs emanating from their historical, cultural and philosophical differences and peculiarities. By focusing on the Chinese foreign policy decision making process, the second chapter aims to find out the impact of the specific organizational processes on foreign policy decisions and investing the role of the military in policy making. As stated in the book, in the first 30 years of the People's Republic of China (PRC), foreign policy was heavily determined by the strong Chinese leader Mao Zedong; however, ideology and leaders' personality lost importance. After Deng's reforms, institutionalization and professionalism gained ground. While factional policies were important during Mao and Deng's period, summit and head of state diplomacy became important elements during the rule of Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. As for the military, the army has remained an actor that mostly had an indirect effect on decision making process compared to other actors as it has not been represented in the Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) since 1997. However, this indirect effect cannot be underestimated. The third chapter is about how China views the international system and what kinds of contributions it has made so far to this system. It is specified that China's world view is evolved from a Marxist-Leninist approach which sees the international system in terms of war and revolution in contrast to Deng's peace and development approach. In this chapter, the 'China threat' theory and the meaning of responsible power are also discussed. However, in respect to the China threat theory, the author does not sufficiently explain the basis of this theory or perception which I see as an omission in the book. Actually he shows China's economic rise and Germany's attack on Britain as the reasons for the China threat theory. However I believe that Organski's 'power transition theory,' Mearsheimer's 'offensive realism' theory and even Huntington's 'Clash of Civilizations' theory should have been mentioned as the basis of China threat theory in this chapter.

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The fourth chapter is about insecurities and vulnerabilities of China and their impact on Chinese foreign policy. The author categorizes these insecurities and vulnerabilities into four groups which are; the regime of the country, historical experiences, geographic insecurity, and special vulnerability to the U.S. In this part, he briefly explains the problems in Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan, East and South China Sea. The author concludes that China still needs the U.S. for its development and despite the mistrust towards Washington D.C., there will be no challenge to the U.S. …

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