Striving for power: Chinese foreign policy in Xi Jinping’s ‘new era’

President Xi Jinping has emerged out of last month’s 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party as a new paramount leader of China on a par with Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and Deng Xiaoping, engineer of the reform policy that has delivered China’s economic rise. It is an extraordinary measure of his dominance in Chinese politics that he is the first living leader to be named as a guide for the party since Mao died in 1976. With ‘Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era’ written into the party constitution, he now—along with Marx, Lenin, Mao and Deng—defines the meaning of Chinese Communism. As The Economist puts it, ‘The congress has consolidated his authority not just for five years but, in effect, for life.’

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China’s diplomatic leverage over North Korea is zero (quoted by the New York Times, 23 September 2017)

I was quoted by the New York Times, “At U.N. and in the Air, North Korea and U.S. trade tough messages,” September 23, 2017.

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Learning lessons, not scoring points, from the Doklam standoff

The 10-week-long standoff between Chinese and Indian forces in the Doklam region of the Himalayas was peacefully resolved on 28 August. This is a victory for diplomacy on both sides. The temptation to score points and declare winners and losers is, however, hard to resist. Analysts from both China and India, as well as other countries, have tried to impose zero-sum verdicts on the resolution of the standoff. But zero-sum perspectives give a simplistic and superficial reading of the Sino-Indian border struggle—and, if they’re internalised by policymakers, they can also produce counterproductive and dangerous conditions for future strategic interaction between the two countries.

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About

Dr Feng Zhang (PhD, LSE) is a Fellow in the Department of International Relations at the Australian National University’s Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs. His research focuses on Chinese foreign policy, Asia-Pacific security, and international relations theory. He is also Adjunct Professor at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies in China.

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