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

Analysis: China Raises Hong Kong Rhetoric to Tiananmen Level

A front-page commentary in The People’s Daily called the current demonstrations 'chaos,' the same word Party officials used 25 years ago to describe the Tiananmen Square protests More

US Airstrikes Anger Syrian Civilians Fleeing Their Homes

Pentagon officials say they have seen no credible evidence of civilian deaths caused by US airstrikes against Islamic State militants More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid