Xi Jinping On Chinese Foreign Relations: The Governance of China and Chinese Commentary

Xi Jinping’s foreign policy thoughts as presented in The Governance of China largely involve the repackaging and in some cases the embellishment or modification of longstanding Chinese policies and views. Xi presents himself as a strong advocate of conventional thoughts on peaceful development, cooperative interstate ties, noninterference, a defensive force posture, and other core tenets of Chinese foreign policy evident since at least the advent of the reform era and often earlier.

Among these, his clearest point of emphasis regards China’s long-term commitment to a policy of peaceful development requiring a largely stable and cooperative set of relations with outside powers. Xi’s policies undoubtedly reflect the desire of the Chinese leadership to provide a more convincing and reassuring argument for why China’s rise will not threaten others.

All of this should be good news for China’s neighbors and other states heavily involved in various relationships with Beijing or desiring greater ties. That said, Xi does not spell out exactly how Beijing will resolve the uncertainties and tensions that will inevitably accompany China’s growing power and influence, despite the desire for cooperation and development. In fact, Xi’s foreign policy speeches provide a basis for real concern about how a stronger China will address those other views and policies he espouses over which there is no doubt considerable disagreement within the international community. Foremost among these are: a heightened stress on the defense of Chinese sovereignty claims, opposition to “Cold War era” security alliances in favor of a new type of cooperative security architecture, and the creation of a more just and equitable international order. Although certainly evident in earlier times, these three elements form a central part of Xi’s foreign policy thinking, constituting areas where he arguably believes a stronger China might more effectively influence the global order while advancing core Chinese interests.

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