China’s Contemporary Political Leadership, Foreign Policy, and Their Chineseness

To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.


There have been several profound features embedded in the contemporary Chinese political leadership, all having their roots in the Chinese centuries-long traditions or the modern/contemporary creative practice, together with their shaping impacts upon China’s foreign policy or remarkable reflections in her external behavior. They are: reforms inherently differentiated; central idea of “maintenance”, notion of “biological circle governing universe”, paradox in the question of equality, the emphasis on morality, overwhelmingly domestic function of foreign policy, firm belief in the Chineseness per sue and its overwhelming importance, and political prudence in the perennial context of “Strong China, Weak China.” China is facing enormous domestic historical challenges and substantial international pressure, while a generally peaceful China can be assured at least from her self-regarding realistic perspective. KeywordsChina–China’s foreign policy–China’s political leadership–Chineseness–Contemporary China–International responsibility–Peaceful rise

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

The rise of China as a major player global politics over the past few decades has generated substantial debate among scholars and practitioners of international relations. Many have raised questions and concerns as to what China’s long term intentions are, whether it would cooperate or challenge the existing global order, and how countries should respond, react and relate to it. Given the limitations posed by mainstream international relations theories in explaining China’s behavior, this dissertation seeks to delve into the study of China’s international politics and foreign policy actions by examining the Chinese political worldview concerning its preferred world order and the norms and rules that it seeks to promote. To do so, this thesis introduces the notion of “Chinese exceptionalism” as a framework or lens through which to better account for China’s international politics and foreign policy. In this thesis, I will argue that the Chinese political worldview (i.e. how it sees itself and how it sees the world) perceives China itself as being exceptional, that is, it is good and different, and that this has influenced Beijing’s approach to the practice of international politics. Such an exceptionalism mindset, I argue, provides us with a better understanding and a more comprehensive interpretation to China’s international relations as compared to mainstream IR theories. As this dissertation will highlight, China perceives the existing international order as ripe for change and that it ought to play a more influential role whilst having its interests acknowledged by others. Hence the central question in this dissertation is what is the Chinese worldview concerning global order and what are the norms and principles that China seeks to promote seeing itself as an exceptional power? Furthermore, how does Chinese exceptionalism influence Chinese international relations debates concerning its role in the global system and its preferred world order? The following study provides a systematic analysis to flesh out China’s political worldview and how its conceptions of exceptionalism are being reflected in its international practices and global politics. Drawing upon interviews conducted with international relations scholars (particularly those based in East Asia), senior policymakers both from and outside China, Chinese primary sources, and participatory insights gleaned from extended fieldwork working together with Chinese IR specialists based at a Singapore-based defense think-tank, this dissertation explores China’s worldview and its exceptionalism thinking in five different areas. They are, namely, (I) Chinese theories of international relations, (II) Chinese national identity, (III) China’s national image, (IV) China’s global outreach as shown by the Belt and Road Initiative, and finally, (V) in China’s relations with its neighbors. Through locating Chinese exceptionalism discourse within these five areas, this dissertation seeks to unravel what Chinese exceptionalism entails, and how it it frames Beijing’s worldview towards international politics.
Since the early 1980s, when China began to witness an influx of foreign, mainly Western, translation theories as a result of its opening up to the outside world, a number of Chinese scholars have argued that the importation of these theories has been excessive, that the Chinese have always had their own tradition of studying translation, and that this tradition must be preserved and protected from too much outside influence. The author accepts that a Chinese tradition of theorizing translation does exist and attempts to outline the main features of this tradition. He argues, however, that the 'Chineseness' of Chinese translation theory is not something to be deliberately designed and manufactured, that Chinese scholarship, like all scholarship, can only benefit from interacting with other traditions and, furthermore, that Sinocentrism can be as damaging to the development of translation studies as Eurocentrism.
Título en la cubierta: China: Fragile Superpower: How China’s Internal Politics Could Derail Its Peaceful Rise
On War Edited and translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret
  • Clausewitz
  • Carl
The origins of confrontation and conflict: American policy toward the Communist China and the China
  • Shi
  • Yinhong
Shi, Yinhong (1995). The origins of confrontation and conflict: American policy toward the Communist China and the China–U.
The rise of a fierce yet fragile superpower. Cover story: China
  • Fareed Zakaria
Zakaria, Fareed (2008). The rise of a fierce yet fragile superpower. Cover story: China 2008.
Five stresses, four points of beauty, and three affections
  • People
  • Daily
People's Daily (1983). Five stresses, four points of beauty, and three affections (in Chinese), January 6, 1983.
Constructing China: Great power identity and diplomacy in an uncertain world (in Chinese)
  • Zhang
  • Dengji
Zhang, Dengji (2003). Constructing China: Great power identity and diplomacy in an uncertain world (in Chinese). Taipei: Yangzi Press. East Asia (2011) 28:247–257
What if Beijing is right? International Herald Tribune
  • Howard W French
President Hu Jingtao’s speech at Yale University
  • Jingtao Hu
Authoritarian resilience: institutionalization and the transition to China’s fourth generation
  • Andrew J Nathan
China’s much debated “Global Challenges
  • Yinhong Shi
Smile diplomacy: Working magic along China’s periphery. The Economist
  • Banyan
China unbending on Iran
  • Chris Buckley
The Chinese dream has replaced America’s. The Times
  • Martin Fletcher
China and Chineseness—Civilization as Historical Storehouse,” Speech delivered at National University of Singapore on
  • Phillip Kuhn
To act is to know: Chinese dilemmas
  • Gungwu Wang
Highlights of President Hu’s speech at reform eulogy meeting
  • News Xinhua
  • Agency
Daguo Waijiao strategy: An inevitability for China (in Chinese)
  • Zhicheng Ye
Foreign policy: Assertiveness alongside a message of peace
  • David Pilling
China weighs assertion and caution in U.S. shadow. Reuter
  • Chris Buckley
Interpreting the political report of the 17th Party Congress
  • News Xinhua
  • Agency
China and Chineseness-Civilization as Historical Storehouse
  • Phillip Kuhn