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

Photogallery Pope Condemns IS 'Persecution' of Minorities

Pope delivers annual 'Urbi et Orbi' (to the city and the world) blessing, appeals for end to conflicts in Africa, dialogue in Middle East, condemns Taliban attack in Pakistan More

China Reduces Number of Crimes Punishable by Death

Earlier this year China announced plans to remove nine crimes from the list of capital offenses, including counterfeiting, fraudulent fund-raising and forcing others into prostitution More

Analysis: For N. Koreans, Parody Has Grave Tone

Most North Koreans who might see 'The Interview' would be horribly offended, outraged, and confused 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.
Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syriai
X
Jeff Seldin
December 24, 2014 11:38 PM
Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syria

Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaise

Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Mombasa in Holiday Tourism Slump Due to Security Fears

Kenya's usually popular beachside tourist destination of Mombasa is seeing a much slower holiday season this year due to fears of insecurity as the country has suffered from a string of terror attacks linked to Somali militants. Mohammed Yusuf reports for VOA on how businessmen and tourists feel about the situation.
Video

Video For Somalis, 2014 Marked by Political Instability Within Government

While Somalia has long been torn apart by warfare and violence, this year one of the country's biggest challenges has come from within the government, as political infighting curtails the country's progress, threatens security gains and disappoints the international community. VOA's Gabe Joselow report.
Video

Video US Political Shift Could Affect Iran Nuclear Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis are continuing into 2015 after Iran and six world powers failed to agree by a November deadline. U.S. domestic politics, however, could complicate efforts to reach a deal in the new year. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video NYSE: The Icon of Capitalism

From its humble beginnings in 1792 to its status as an economic bellweather for the world, the New York Stock Exchange is an integral part of the story of America. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from Wall Street.
Video

Video Islamic State Emergence Transforms Syria and Iraq in 2014

The emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as a potent force in early 2014 changed the dynamics of the region. Their brutal methods - including executions and forced slavery - horrified the international community, drawing Western forces into the conflict. It also splintered the war in Syria, where more than 200,000 Syrians have died in the conflict. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell looks back at a deadly year in the region -- and what 2015 may hold.
Video

Video Massive Study Provides Best Look at Greenland Ice Loss Yet

The Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than predicted, according to a new study released in the Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences that combines NASA satellite data and aerial missions. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the finding means coastal communities worldwide could be at greater risk, sooner, from the impact of rising seas.
Video

Video US Marines, Toys for Tots Bring Christmas Joy

Christmas is a time for giving in the United States, especially to young children who look forward to getting presents. But some families don't have money to buy gifts. For nearly 70 years, a U.S. Marines-sponsored program has donated toys and distributed them to underprivileged children during the holiday season. VOA's Deborah Block tells us about the annual Toys for Tots program.
Video

Video France Rocked by Attacks as Fear of ISIS-Inspired Terror Grows

Eleven people were injured, two seriously, when a man drove his car into crowds of pedestrians Sunday night in the French city of Dijon, shouting ‘God is Great’ in Arabic. It’s the latest in a series of apparent ‘lone-wolf’ terror attacks in the West. Henry Ridgwell looks at the growing threat of attacks, which security experts say are likely inspired by the so-called "Islamic State" terror group.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid