One of the elements that has marked China's rise in the international community is the emergence of its strategic partnerships. Strategic alignments have evolved in a dynamic international context, where cooperation has become more sophisticated and multidimensional. Deriving a conceptual definition is difficult as strategic relations have taken different forms. This research article attempts to complement the conceptual understanding by using a multinomial logistic model to analyse factors influencing China's choice of instrument with its strategic partners. At the level of strategic alignment, China uses three types of networks: strategic partnerships, trade strategic partnerships and comprehensive strategic partnerships. These orientations are not mutually exclusive, but each has its own logic that varies according to the levels of formality, linkage, scope and ideological proximity. Those economies with closer political orientation with China are likely to forge strategic partnerships. Trade strategic partnerships are significantly correlated with a regulatory quality index and are highly likely to be signed with countries within the Asia-Pacific region. Comprehensive strategic partnerships, on the other hand, are established with countries more highly integrated into the globalisation process. In this regard, China has built its strategic network by combining its Soviet legacy with notions of Western institutionalised cooperation.