- New Developments in Chinese Foreign Policy
In recent years there have been a number of important new developments in Chinese foreign policy. China has moved from seeking foreign investment and a foreign policy of relative passivity known as taoguang yanghui, or “avoiding the light while seeking obscurity,” to a more robust, forward-leaning foreign policy of “going out” or turning outward, which includes investing more abroad, seeking greater and greater amounts of natural resources overseas, and adopting a much more assertive stance on territorial issues in the East and South China Seas or its Himalayan border regions, even establishing military bases on foreign soil (speaking of Chinese facilities in Djibouti). At the same time, Xi Jinping has offered the United States and other countries a “new type of great power relations” (now called the New Model of International Relations by Chinese officials), pledging that China will rise peacefully and will not repeat the mistakes of past rising powers. This special issue brings together five scholars, hailing from China, the United Kingdom, Italy, and the United States, to discuss these new developments in Chinese foreign policy.
The collection begins with “Going Global 2.0: China’s Growing Investment in the West and Its Impact,” by Zhiqun Zhu, which examines and explains the recent outward turn in China’s growth strategy. Going Global 1.0, the first phase of China’s outward investment strategy, focused primarily on the developing world from 1990 to 2005. Beginning in 2005, China accelerated its investments in developing countries. It then expanded its investment strategy to targeted Western nations with major mergers and acquisitions of prominent Western corporations, such as Geely’s purchase of Volvo, Lenovo’s takeover of IBM’s PC division, and Haier’s acquisition of General Electric’s appliances business. This strategy improved Chinese capital accumulation and domestic [End Page 155] economic development and boosted major Western economies, particularly during the global recession that began in 2008. Discussing the political implications of China’s most recent turn, Zhu notes the potential for controversy and even conflict as many of China’s moves become politicized.
Moving from politicization to securitization, Maria Julia Trombetta discusses China’s energy security and its moves to strengthen it in recent years in her piece “Fueling Threats: Securitization and the Challenges of Chinese Energy Policy.” As China’s economy has grown in recent decades, so has its appetite for fossil fuels. Trombetta argues that China’s leaders have securitized Chinese energy policy in recent years, with the Chinese state taking the lead. China’s national oil companies are its primary actors, pursuing a more assertive energy sourcing policy, which has impacted China’s broader foreign policy, its more assertive policy choices in the East and South China Seas being important examples. She makes the case that the securitization of China’s energy policy has the potential to contribute to greater tensions with some of China’s neighbors and the West.
Pippa Morgan’s piece, “Ideology and Relationality: Chinese Aid in Africa Revisited,” gives us a look at China’s contemporary aid policy to Africa through the lens of China’s historical African aid policy. Using quantitative analysis, she finds that China today favors African partners that were China’s preferred partners in its prereform past, partners with which China had close relations and general ideological affinity. In other words, China’s aid allocation does not fit the standard rational actor model, but rather a particularistic relational model, wherein decisions are driven by relational factors over standard rational factors.
Shunji Cui’s “China-US Climate Cooperation: Creating a New Model of Major-Country Relations?” considers the nontraditional security dimensions of China’s “new type of great power relations” initiative (again, recently retitled the New Model of Major-Country Relations). Deploying an English School global international society framework, Cui argues that the new type of great power relations proposed by China is neither an empty slogan nor a harmonious-sounding cover for more hegemonic ambitions but in fact reflects the changing nature of great power relations [End Page 156] in the twenty-first century, with a growing international society characterized by globalization and interdependence. She analyzes Sino...