Xi Jinping’s Foreign Policy Dilemma: One Belt, One Road or the South China Sea?
- Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs
- ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
- Volume 38, Number 3, December 2016
- pp. 422-444
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This article utilizes the elements of leadership, political performance and national interests to understand China’s foreign policy decision-making process. In contrast to a state-centred analysis, this article assumes that the supreme leadership’s view of political performance is the most important factor when it comes to foreign policy decision-making. it contends that so-called national interests are often manipulated to serve particular political agendas. Specifically, this article explores whether the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative or advancing China’s interests in the South China Sea can be better utilized to improve Chinese President Xi Jinping’s political performance. The comparison between the two issues incorporates the dimensions of feasibility, significance and morality. In the final analysis, this article finds that the OBOR is likely to be better utilized to enhance Xi’s political performance, which yields some salient implications for future trends in China’s foreign policy.