News / Asia

Researchers Try to Explain Chinese Foreign Policy Decision Making

Researchers Try to Explain Chinese Foreign Policy Decision Making
Researchers Try to Explain Chinese Foreign Policy Decision Making
William Ide

A lack of transparency in China has long challenged analysts trying to understand the Chinese government's foreign policy decisions. A new report says Chinese leaders are increasingly influenced by a wide range of factors – from government agencies to research institutions and opinions voiced on the Internet.

Factors

As China's international influence grows, bolstered by its economic might, researchers at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI, say a growing number of players – from high ranking government officials and military officers to intellectuals, researchers, businessman and the media – are increasingly competing to influence the decisions of the country's top leaders.

Actors

Linda Jakobson heads SIPRI's China department and is one of the authors of the report "New Foreign Policy Actors in China."

"It's no longer possible to think about China's decision makers as a unitary force on any given foreign policy issue," Jakobson said. "Those seeking China's cooperation need to evaluate a whole host of potential interests from various interest groups. It's also, I think, critical to take into consideration this nationalist undercurrent running throughout China and the possible constraining effect that this has on leaders and their room for maneuver, especially during a crisis. "

Analysis

The report is based on 71 interviews, including 19 with officials of the Communist Party of China as well as interviews with officers from China's People's Liberation Army, or PLA, researchers, representatives of state-owned companies, journalists, bloggers and China analysts.

Speaking recently at a gathering in Washington D.C. to mark the release of the report, Jakobson said that many of those interviewed saw China's Foreign Ministry as a weak actor. She also noted the increasing influence of government agencies directly tied to the country's economy.

Jakobson said that as China's share of the global economy grows and domestic considerations increasingly have foreign policy ramifications, more government agencies and offices of the Communist Party will compete to influence decision making.

"This means that decisions, even by the lesser ministries, so to speak, will have an impact on country's both near and far," she said.

Internal and external infuence

Beyond the official Chinese establishment, Jakobson says local governments with international economic ties, researchers, media figures and people on the Internet also are actively trying to influence Beijing's foreign policy.

And there are those actors, such as large enterprises, Jakobson says, that do not necessarily seek to influence foreign policy, but ultimately do, often complicating Chinese diplomacy.

She says that in their pursuit of commerce these enterprises inadvertently entangle foreign policy officials in human rights, energy security and political issues.

"Ironically, of the various peripheral groups that the SIPRI report identifies, it's these enterprises that at times affect foreign policy the most as has been the case recently in Central Asia, Iran and Sudan," said Jakobson.

Role of China's People's Liberation Army

Jakobson notes that the influence of China's PLA and the Ministry of State Security is also growing.

"Several SIPRI interviewees said that the Beijing Olympics and then the riots last year in Xinjiang in the summer have led to more funds and prestige for the Ministry of State Security, thereby making it an increasingly powerful domestic actor whose sway spills over into the foreign policy realm," she said.

Jakobson says PLA officers increasingly are weighing in on public debates. She notes that PLA officers attend civilian workshops, invite Chinese and foreign civilian researchers to their own workshops and take part in televised debates about foreign policy.

"The PLA certainly no longer shies away from displaying its power as is evident from numerous incidents and also the 2007 anti-satellite test," Jakobson said. "And these were actions that the Chinese knew quite well would antagonize both the United States and its neighbors."

Viewpoint

David Finkelstein, director of China Studies at the Center for Naval Analyses here in Washington says China's military is finding an expanded role in influencing foreign policy because the country's security needs are growing.

"The PLA is increasingly involved in activities that have foreign policy and security policy implications," Finkelstein said. "Activities that require coordination and consultation across the party state – more than at any time in its history – the PLA is going places and doing things."

Finkelstein notes that during the past decade, the PLA's activities beyond China's borders have seen enormous growth from U.N. peacekeeping operations to exercises with foreign militaries as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More