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The domestic sources of China’s more assertive foreign policy


China’s more assertive policy in the East and South East Asia region since 2008 has been explained either in terms of its rising power, a belief that the United States is in decline, or even the complexities of the Chinese state’s bureaucratic political structures. This article suggests another explanation – namely that China’s more assertive strategy is an attempt to shore up legitimacy at home at a time of increasing domestic stress.

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  1. 1.

    A translation and a video clip of Xi Jinping’s speech are available here:

  2. 2.

    An introduction by Abe himself to this under-reported foreign policy idea could be found at:


  1. The Wall Street Journal. (2011) Many rich Chinese consider leaving. The Wall Street Journal 2 November.

  2. The International Institute for Strategic Studies. (2013) China’s defense spending: New questions. In: Strategic Comments. Vol. 19, Comment 22.

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This article is based on a talk given at the LSE China Conference, Beijing, 15 August 2013.

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Zhang, J. The domestic sources of China’s more assertive foreign policy. Int Polit 51, 390–397 (2014).

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  • Xi Jinping
  • peaceful rise
  • China’s economic problems
  • nationalism