Discussion on the Development of China and Prospects for Its Foreign Policy

Discussion on the Development of China and Prospects for Its Foreign Policy

Lukin A.V.,

Director, Center for East Asian and SCO Studies, MGIMO University, Moscow; Head, Department of International Relations, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, a.lukin@inno.mgimo.ru

elibrary_id: 696524 | ORCID: 0000-0002-1962-2892 | RESEARCHER_ID: L-4986-2015

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2019.01.06

For citation:

Lukin A.V. Discussion on the Development of China and Prospects for Its Foreign Policy. – Polis. Political Studies. 2019. No. 1. P. 71-89. (In Russ.). https://doi.org/10.17976/jpps/2019.01.06


The rise of China as well as its unprecedented economic success turned to be one of the most important factors in the world development in the late XX and early XXI centuries and transformed the country into the second most influential player on the international scene. This change caused a heated debate within the country about the prospects of Beijing’s foreign policy and economic course, with two major directions emerging as a result. The first group calls for a more active behaviour of China as a great power on the international arena, taking the example of the United States. It strives to achieve this goal through all available means, including military ones, to ensure China’s economic and political interests abroad, to put forward its own alternative to Western concepts of world development, and to create alternative trade and economic unions and zones. As a result, supporters of this line seek to move away from Deng Xiaoping’s foreign policy of modesty and restraint. The second group of realists believes that it is necessary to follow Deng’s principles, since the country is yet to secure the status of a major world power and can lose its current advantages, which come with a more modest status. They suggest that following the first path will provoke an unfavorable reaction of the international community. Chinese leadership has taken an intermediate position in this debate, holding back the most radical proposals of the activists and adopting some of the moderate ones. The debate, which has been vigorous since the beginning of the XXI century became particularly acute after the start of the trade war initiated by U.S. President Donald Trump. It revealed many of China’s weaknesses as well as its significant dependence on the United States. During the exacerbation, a number of experts criticised certain aspects of domestic and foreign policy of China’s current leadership, including the “belt and road initiative” initiative. Some claim that this initiative, along with a number of other major projects adopted by the Chinese government, for instance, the “Made in China 2025” plan, could have provoked Trump’s tough response, which may put China’s development at stake. Some major Beijing’s partners are also criticising certain forms of realisation of this initiative. The article examines the available sources shedding light on the public and non-public side of the debate, as well as its possible implications for China’s foreign and domestic policy and Sino-Russian relations. 

China, foreign policy, USA, trade war, belt and road initiative, discussion on Chinese politics.


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Content No. 1, 2019

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