Journal of Chinese Political Science

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 269–290 | Cite as

Diverse Multilateralism: Four Strategies in China’s Multilateral Diplomacy

  • Joel WuthnowEmail author
  • Xin Li
  • Lingling Qi
Research Article


This article addresses Chinas multilateral diplomacy by identifying four distinct strategies: watching, engaging, circumventing, and shaping. The typology builds on two literatures: power transition theory, and the more recent “assertiveness” discourse in the West. Drawing from a range of cases in both the economic and security domains, the article argues that China’s multilateralism is diverse, and that it cannot be un-problematically characterized as either status-quo or revisionist in nature. However, the general trend appears to be towards engagement, but with an assertive tact as China’s interests become further entangled in the business of international institutions.


China Institutions United Nations Multilateralism Foreign Policy 



Xin Li thanks the Danish EAC Foundation for its financial support for his stay and research at Copenhagen Business School after his completion of PhD education.


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Copyright information

© Journal of Chinese Political Science/Association of Chinese Political Studies 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CNA China StudiesAlexandriaUSA
  2. 2.Asia Research Centre, Copenhagen Business SchoolCopenhagenDenmark
  3. 3.School of GovernmentNanjing UniversityNanjingChina

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