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A New Chinese Foreign Policy?

In part because the United States is asserting its presence in Asia, Chinese scholars have begun voicing opposition to the government’s decades-long policy of non-alignment, which they think is outdated and unsuited to a rising great power. From the FT:

“The situation in China’s backyard has become more complicated, and there is a feeling that things are running out of control,” says Mr Chen. “Following the increase in Chinese power, we will need more friends. Otherwise we run the risk of isolation.”

Some Chinese scholars believe Beijing has already started watering down its traditional non-alignment dogma.

Regarding Syria, for instance, where Chinese and Russian interests coincide, Beijing has adopted what one unnamed diplomat said was a “quasi-alliance” with Moscow.

But it’s in Asia where the main focus of Chinese foreign policy lies:

Yan Xuetong, dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University who has been one of the fiercest critics of non-alignment, says Beijing must completely abandon the dogma and replace it with a web of military alliances reaching from North Korea all the way down to Sri Lanka.

“We live in an international order dominated by the US’ military alliances,” he said. “China is not offering its neighbours security guarantees, so as China is rising, fears are emerging among them as to what our intentions might be.”

If China is slowly assembling the pieces of an “extensive alliance system of its own”, as the FT speculates, the strategic landscape could shift dramatically. India in particular has long feared encirclement by China, and smaller countries—such as Vietnam and the Philippines, which have been clashing with Beijing over claims to the resource-rich South China Sea—will also be keeping a nervous eye on these developments.

It’s lamentable that the American press is still overlooking one of the biggest stories of our time.

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  • Mrs. Davis

    I look at this as a bubble burst/hubris indicator. Why would a country want to join an alliance with China? Maybe they could call it the Last Empire Protection and Expansion Regime.

  • Kansas Scott

    Inasmuch as ignorance is rarely a good thing, I agree that is lamentable that the American press is overlooking this story. However, this lack of attention is not without its benefits.

    You frequently mention how Chinese populist nationalism limits the ability of the powers that be in China to maneuver through various entanglements with other countries. I suspect that the folks in Foggy Bottom are not terribly upset to not have the full attention of the American people.

  • Luke Lea

    Until China is a democracy there is no way neighboring democracies will not feel afraid. In the final analysis it is all about democracy.

  • memomachine

    If you were a member of China’s alliance. What does that give you? Frankly considering the expansionism rampant in China today why any country that adjoins China wouldn’t be fearful of it is beyond me.

  • matthew49

    North Korea, Sri Lanka, and who else?

  • Sam L.

    It’s lamentable, but not at all surprising.

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