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  • Author: Shaun Breslin, Jinghan Zeng, Yuefan Xiao
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: As China has grown stronger, some observers have identified an assertive turn in Chinese foreign policy. Evidence to support this argument includes the increasingly frequent evocation of China's 'core interests'—a set of interests that represents the non-negotiable bottom lines of Chinese foreign policy. When new concepts, ideas and political agendas are introduced in China, there is seldom a shared understanding of how they should be defined; the process of populating the concept with real meaning often takes place incrementally. This, the article argues, is what has happened with the notion of core interests. While there are some agreed bottom lines, what issues deserve to be defined (and thus protected) as core interests remains somewhat blurred and open to question. By using content analysis to study 108 articles by Chinese scholars, this article analyses Chinese academic discourse of China's core interests. The authors' main finding is that 'core interests' is a vague concept in the Chinese discourse, despite its increasing use by the government to legitimize its diplomatic actions and claims. The article argues that this vagueness not only makes it difficult to predict Chinese diplomatic behaviour on key issues, but also allows external observers a rich source of opinions to select from to help support pre-existing views on the nature of China as a global power.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Stefan Halper
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: This article provides an analysis of President Obama at mid-term. It looks at the mid-term elections from the perspective of the political issues that informed the debate, the implications of Republican control of the House of Representatives for both legislation and relations between the administration and Congress, and the policy areas where cooperation and possible progress is possible. The article looks at the Tea Party movement as a collection of single issue and multi-issue political groups ranging from 'nativists' to Christian fundamentalists to the eclectic and unprecedented combination of fiscal and social conservatives seen at Glen Beck's 'honoring America' event at the Washington Monument. This broad movement may be seen as a classical revitalization movement, not unlike those described by Anthony F. C. Wallace. It is opposed by another 'revitalization movement' namely the 'American renewal' promised by Obama as he ran for office in 2008. These countervailing narratives—in effect two different versions of America, one reflecting the Tea Party broadly conceived and the other reflecting Obama's 'promise'—are seeking political traction among independents. The implications of this struggle are momentous. The prevailing narrative will frame policy going forward on a range of domestic issues and on selected foreign policy questions, which will include the present debate on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia and the upcoming debate on China, which will have even further reaching effects. Finally, this article describes Obama's struggle to frame his policy successes and the ensuing debate in a favourable light. His opponents have sought to limit his progress by presenting him as 'the other', an effective but destructive technique that could have longer term effects on the domestic political discourse. However, the author remains an optimist; he believes, together with 50 per cent of Americans, the president is likable, logical and gives a good speech, and that he will be re-elected in 2012.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: China, America
  • Author: Mike Smith, Nicholas Khoo
  • Publication Date: 06-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Since the end of the Second World War, US foreign policy towards the Asia-Pacific has been characterized by the assertion of American dominance. To this end, policy-makers in Washington have adopted a varied policy towards China. From 1950 to 1972, the US pursued a containment policy designed to thwart the revolutionary goals of Maoist foreign policy. Beginning with Nixon's rapprochement with Beijing in 1972, US policy was dramatically altered to meet the overriding goal of deterring the Soviet threat. The US and China actively cooperated to contain Soviet and Vietnamese influence in Northeast and Southeast Asia. The end of the Cold War, preceded shortly before by the Tiananmen massacre, saw another shift in the US position, whereby China was no longer looked upon with favour in Washington. Acting on his presidential campaign promises not to repeat George Bush Senior's policy of 'coddling dictators'in Beijing, President Clinton initially enacted a policy that explicitly linked China's human rights record to the renewal of most favoured- nation trade status with the US. When this linkage failed, a striking policy reversal occurred as the Clinton administration adopted an unrestrained engagement policy in which it eventually underplayed Sino-US differences in the spheres of trade, human rights, and strategic-military ties.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, China, America, Washington, Beijing, Asia