Chinese International Relations and Foreign Policy
Full course description
The economic and political reforms of the 1980s and 1990s transformed China into the world’s second-largest economy in less than a generation. Its economic growth has allowed the country to seek a more significant role in shaping world politics. In this advanced-level undergraduate course, we are trying to make sense of Chinese international relations and foreign policy—how China approaches the world and what shapes its external behaviors—in the contemporary era.
This course begins with an introduction, laying out the overall course structure, introducing critical theoretical perspectives and approaches to the Western and Chinese international relations theories. Week 2 examines the historical overviews of Chinese foreign policy as well as the leading domestic debates on it and examines the domestic and international determinants for a changing Chinese foreign policy from 1949 onwards. From Week 3 to 6, some of the core foreign policy interests for China (i.e., national reunification, security, sovereignty and territorial integrity, performative legitimacy, and international recognition and status) are examined with corresponding country/region case studies. Week 3 and 4 examine China’s relationship with its nearest neighbors (i.e., Taiwan and the Korean Peninsula) and significant countries in Northeast and Southeast Asia, illustrating the critical challenges to Chinese national interests that occur on its border. Week 5 looks into Chinese relations with the U.S, exploring the development of the Sino-U.S relations, U.S military presence in Asia, the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia, and also the recent Sino-U.S trade war. Week 6 takes a closer look at Chinese participation in international and regional institutions, identifying the general pattern of Chinese behaviors in the multilateral setting. The course is then wrapped up in the final debate on the future role of China in the global order.
Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to:
- explain major Chinese foreign policy development since 1949
- analyze theoretical approaches in the examination of Chinese foreign policy through data interpretation and information gathering
- demonstrate critical thinking skills in evaluating China’s modern relationship with countries in the Asia-Pacific region as well as the U.S
- develop effective essay writing skills
COR1003 Contemporary World History AND SSC2002 International Relations: Themes and Theories OR SSC1025 Introduction to Political Science
Sutter, R. G. (2nd edition) (2019). Foreign relations of the PRC: The legacies and constraints of China’s international politics since 1949. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.
Lanteigne, M. (3rd Edition) (2016). Chinese Foreign Policy: An Introduction. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.