China’s Foreign Policy as a Rising Power
In the past three decades, China has achieved remarkable economic development with a double-digit economic growth rate. Accompanied by rapid economic growth, China’s political and economic influence has expanded far beyond the Asia-Pacific region.
A rise to great power, a peaceful one if possible, has become one of the top priorities in China’s foreign policy from the early 2000s. Since then, China has been prudently developing and adjusting its grand strategy as a rising power.
How should we understand the characteristics of its diplomacy as a rising power? To analyze China’s evolving grand strategy, this chapter addresses such questions as: What are China’s fundamental foreign policy objectives? How has the Chinese government employed diplomacy in the pursuit of these objectives over the past two decades?
This chapter argues that China is adopting an aggressive and comprehensive grand strategic policy. China has been rapidly modernizing its military capabilities and is becoming more and more assertive in defending its “ core interests,” including the maritime issues. However, great efforts to stabilize bilateral relations with the United States have been taken as well.
China has been actively promoting bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements (FTAs), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). For China, FTAs, RCEP, and FTAAP are important economic instruments of its strategic scheme to offset the negative impact the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP), the Japan-led TPP11, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) have on China, and therefore, to confront the United States and facilitate the rise of China.
To enhance its structural power in the international area, China takes a dual approach. On the one hand, China is developing great enthusiasm to play a major role in the existing international institutions. On the other hand, China is co-operating closely with other emerging economies to promote the reform of the international financial and monetary system. In this regard, the BRICS and G20 are considered useful platforms to leverage its growing economic might into effective political clout.
This chapter finds that there are three major factors that shape China’s calculative rising strategy. The international and regional balance of power works as a significant constraint on China’s behavior. The geopolitical concerns have become a major determinant of Chinese foreign behavior. “The South-South cooperation principle” has re-emerged as one of the critical guiding principles of China’s policy making in recent years.
This chapter indicates that the success of China’s grand strategy as a rising power depends on its ability to translate its economic power into political power.