Conclusion: China in the Post-Cold War International Society

  • Yongjin Zhang
Part of the St Antony’s Series book series


The central argument of this study is essentially a simple one. The international relations of the People’s Republic of China is a saga of the isolation-alienation-socialisation-integration of China in international society since 1949. This saga is the continuation of a historical search by both China and the wider world for mutual accommodation. It is still unfolding. Hedley Bull once argued that international society is ‘one of the basic elements at work in international politics’.1 David Lampton remarked recently that ‘a central difficulty in China’s foreign relations has been that of reconciling the seeming imperatives of the international system with the Middle Kingdom’s own traditions, self image and desire to modernise.’2 An understanding of this evolving saga is, therefore, indispensable to our comprehension of China in world politics since 1949, and, more broadly, of what Fairbank calls ‘the great Chinese revolution’ in the last fifty years.3


International Society Foreign Policy International Relation Chinese Foreign Policy ASEAN Regional Forum 
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  1. 2.
    See David Lampton’s review of Y. Funabashi, et al, An Emerging China in a World of Interdependence, in China Quarterly, 140 (Dec. 1994), 1198.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    See J. K. Fairbank, The Great Chinese Revolution, 1800–1985. Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Chas W. Freeman, Jr. argued, for example, that ‘The US, however, has ceased to make any effort to integrate China into global institutions. New organisations, like the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and the New Forum (successor to the Coordinating Committee on Multilateral Export Controls) exclude China. Foreign Policy (Fall 1996) 5.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    See, among others, J. Shinn, Weaving the Net: Conditional Engagement with China; P. Dibb, Towards a New Balance of Power in Asia, Adelphi Papers, 295; G. Segal, ‘East Asia and the “Constrainment” of China’, International Security, 20, 4 (Spring 1996) 107–35; and J. S. Nye, Jr, ‘The Case for Deep Engagement’, Foreign Affairs, 74, 4 (1995) 90–102.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    S. Huntington, ‘Clash of Civilisations?’ Foreign Affairs, 72, 3 (1993) 40.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    For a brief discussion of these two approaches in studying China’s international behaviour, see R. Foot, ‘The Study of China’s International Behaviour: International Relations Approaches’, in N. Woods, (ed.), Explaining International Relations since 1945, pp. 259–79.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    S. Huntington, ‘Clash of Civilisations?’ Foreign Affairs, 72, 3, (1993) 29 and 46.Google Scholar
  8. 18.
    Shirk, How China Opened Its Door, pp. 76–7.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Yongjin Zhang 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yongjin Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Political StudiesUniversity of AucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.St Antony’s CollegeOxfordUK

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