Current Volume: 16
Issue 2-3: China’s Global Diplomacy
Special issue edited by Qingmin Zhang, Paul Sharp and Jan MelissenIssue 2 at Brill.com
Paul Sharp, Jan Melissen and Qingming Zhang
The rise of China is no longer just a possibility to be imagined. It is an established fact. So too are the increasing impact that a more powerful and confident China is having on the rest of the world, and the increasing impact that the rest of the world is having on China. Both are unprecedented. China’s interaction with the rest of the world provides a window on how a rising China practices diplomacy. This provides new challenges to which students of contemporary diplomacy in China and in the rest of the world must respond with study and research. We are pleased to present this special issue of The Hague Journal of Diplomacy on China’s Global Diplomacy as part of such an effort.
Wang Li and Yaotian Fan
Zhou Enlai held the first Premiership of China from 1949, and was the chief executive of Chinese diplomacy until 1976. He set out the communist ideology and the doctrine of realpolitik in light of a calculation between core interests and a flexible approach to the issues. He opined that diplomacy remained a constructive means, even though no immediate fruits were present. Zhou’s negotiating calibre was noted at the Geneva Conference (1954), his persuasive tactics were proven at the Bandung Conference (1955) and his pragmatic approach was recognised during his safari in Africa (1963-1964). This article explores how Zhou convinced his foreign counterparts that China had no intention of challenging the status quo while pursuing its legitimate rights in the world order. Given this, Zhou’s legacy should serve as a policy guide as well as a personal eulogy for the peaceful rise of China today.
China’s approach to the norms of appropriate behaviour among states is being scrutinised by academics and practitioners — and no more so than in the South China Sea dispute where China’s response to the regional set of diplomatic norms, the ASEAN Way, is controversial. This essay asks three questions: Is China changing its diplomatic practices towards ASEAN Way diplomatic norms and, if so, how and why? Examining the issue through the lens of diplomatic tactics, the essay argues that yes China is changing its diplomacy, by adopting a range of diplomatic tactics: originally acknowledging ASEAN Way norms; later challenging and manipulating them; and, throughout, adopting tactics with ambiguous meanings. China’s tactics change in response to its leaders’ evolving perceptions of China’s international and regional contexts and, in turn, China’s tactics impact the contexts. China’s diplomacy, in this case, is adaptive, multifaceted, context dependent and context-changing, reflecting diplomacy’s longue durée.
In today’s globalised world, giving consular protection to an increasing number of overseas citizens has become a common challenge to foreign ministries. China, as the most populous country witnessing fast economic development, is facing more severe challenges in this field. Since the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, China’s consular protection has demonstrated new trends such as involving more actors in service delivery, constructing a co-ordination network, legalizing the management and taking targeted preventive measures. Compared with developed countries, ‘whole government involvement’ is the most prominent feature of China’s consular protection practice.
This article addresses the question of whether the emerging role of cities in diplomacy is a reflection of the diplomatic transformation in China, and what the distinctive features are of the diplomatic roles of cities within China’s context. It argues that city diplomacy in China falls between club diplomacy and network diplomacy by exploring five aspects: the number of players, structures, forms, transparency and main purposes. Cities have developed their representation by serving as important agents in managing domestic and international situations, developed their communication channels by contributing in shaping China’s neighbouring diplomacy and global partnerships, and developed their negotiation techniques by participating in reform of global governance system. The article concludes that the diplomatic role of cities in China is to consolidate the social foundation of relations between nations, promote the establishment of a new type of international relations, and promote a community of a shared future for mankind.
China’s growing confidence on the world stage under the leadership of President Xi Jinping is reflected in the country’s more active, vocal and, lately, even ‘wolf warrior’ diplomacy. It is also clearly visible in China’s public diplomacy approach, where priorities have shifted from advertising Chinese culture as the country’s major source of soft power to promoting China’s models of domestic and global governance. The Chinese government proudly presents policies such as the Belt and Road Initiative and, more recently China’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, as improvements in global governance or sometimes even as Chinese ‘gifts’ to the world. This article argues that under President Xi, the content and form of China’s public diplomacy have changed. China’s public diplomacy has hardened, it is more strongly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party and the content of China’s public diplomacy messages have become more political.
In the era of Xi Jinping in China, the international profile of the country has risen. So too has its need to proactively spell out what its rise means to the rest of the world. This essay looks at the ways in which China has attempted to tell its story, and the challenges it has faced from a world that often knows little about it but also has strong, antipathetic opinions about its political system.
Discursive power is the reflection of a country’s national strength and international influence. The increase of economic power does not necessarily mean the increase of discursive power. The improvement of discursive power has to be strategically designed and multidimensionally improved. Due to China’s historical experiences regarding discursive power, China is weak in many fields. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, China began to pay more attention to improve its international discursive power such as expanding its discursive presence and strengthening effectiveness of its voice, changing language style, enhancing institutional power and innovating diplomatic practice. In the future, more substantive efforts will be needed such as strengthening the overall strategic layout, enhancing institutional discursive power in various fields, improving the discursive system and promoting integration of China’s major diplomatic ideas and discourse with global ones.
Recent years have seen China trying to play the role of a responsible power. It has made great efforts in this regard, including actively participating in international peacekeeping operations, collaborating with other countries to deal with the climate change and trying to help in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. However, China’s efforts have met with stiff resistance from the West, especially from the Donald Trump-led United States. How does one explain this turn of events? This essay argues that the speed of China’s rise; the Western perception of China’s domestic development; the failure to address domestic problems on the part of some major Western countries, especially the United States; and the role that the Trump administration played provide important clues to such a development.
Scholarship on what constitutes the major characteristics of China’s diplomacy lacks consensus. This essay argues that many of what have been considered the distinct features of China’s diplomacy are the common features of all diplomacy, rather than specifically those of China’s diplomacy. These distinctive characteristics can be understood from historical and cross-national comparisons, and include strong self-consciousness of and emphasis on its distinction, the declining significance of diplomacy accompanied by the rise of power, the unified leadership of the the Chinese Communist Party, remarkable cultural features and the Chinese leadership’s personal style.
Chas W. Freeman Jr.
Chinese diplomatic style is the product of many influences. It is rooted in 2,000 years of history but also reflects changes resulting from the Chinese Revolution and the dramatic expansion of its wealth, power, status and interests ongoing today. Much is made of the hierarchical tradition in China’s diplomatic thinking and its resistance to Western diplomatic norms. However, these provide unreliable guides for contemporary Chinese diplomacy. While ‘face’, in terms of the respect of others remains an important consideration, Chinese diplomacy is influenced by upholding its understanding of the principles of sovereignty, non-intervention and self-determination. It is also influenced by the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s conceptions of how political leadership and control are exercised and maintained. These concerns manifest themselves in the way Chinese diplomatic style has avoided force, favoured ambiguity and operated with a clear, but creatively interpreted, distinction between non-negotiable core principles and more flexible concrete arrangements.
- Sohaela Amiri and Efe Sevin (eds.), City Diplomacy: Current Trends and Future Prospects, Cham: Palgrave MacMillan, 2020.
- Kristin Haugevik, Special Relationships in World Politics: Inter-State Friendship and Diplomacy after the Second World War, Abingdon: Routledge, 2018.
- Kathryn C. Lavelle, The Challenges of Multilateralism, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020.
Publication date: March 2021
Issue 1Issue 1 at Brill.com
Hae Won Jeong
What are the public diplomacy strategies for legitimising a pro-Islamist foreign policy? This research unveils how Turkey, which has been a vocal supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates across the Middle East since the Arab Spring, draws on pan-Islamic soft power, neo-Ottoman myth-making and public diplomacy strategies embedded in the precepts of the strategic depth doctrine to rationalise its pro-Hamas foreign policy position under the Justice and Development Party (AKP). By employing critical discourse analysis to the political speeches delivered by the Turkish government officials in domestic and international fora, this article suggests that Turkey has sought to legitimise its pro-Islamist foreign policy and subvert the terrorist designation of Hamas internationally through the humanitarian, Islamic and neo-Ottoman framings of the Palestinian issue. It is argued that Turkey’s public diplomacy of Hamas constitutes part and parcel of the AKP’s grand strategy to project Islamic soft power.
Ann-Marie Ekengren and Ulrika Möller
Competition for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council is getting tougher, not the least between candidates within the Western European and Others Group. This empirical study compares the campaigns carried out by Sweden and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in order to explain the Swedish victory in the first round of the elections in 2016. A theoretical framework identifies three logics of campaigning: contributions, commitment and competence. The study maps out the features of the campaigns, including organisation, key participants, activities and message. It includes interviews with diplomats and public officials involved in the campaigns, as well as available campaign documentation and concluding reports. A main difference detected between the candidatures is the more active political involvement in the Swedish campaign, which shows the Swedish commitment and competence to serve on the Council. Further use of this theoretical framework on additional cases of international campaigning is encouraged.
Baldur Thorhallsson and Anna Margrét Eggertsdóttir
This article offers a case study on why small states seek membership on the UN Security Council (UNSC). It examines the intension of a small state, Austria, to seek membership on the Council for the 2009-2010 term, the campaign strategy and the domestic debate on the candidacy. The analysis indicates that Austria’s former status as an empire and successful transformation in the post-war period influenced its candidacy and campaign strategy. Also, Austria’s ideational commitment to the UN cause was the foundation for its successful UNSC campaign. Austria’s small size was not a hindrance in its campaign: on the contrary, as a small state Austria gained prestige for its competence and contributions to the UN. A UNSC seat for Austria was not a question of a small state seeking status; rather, it was a quest for remaining relevant and maintaining status in a changing world system.
This study examines the confluence of sport and soft power within public diplomacy. It analyses professional baseball player Ichiro Suzuki’s role in the United States as a sporting ambassador from Japan — potentially catalysing goodwill, cultural interest, perceptions of national personality traits and even views of policy issues such as international trade and country relations. In doing so, this research draws from non-state public diplomacy, which considers the transnational impacts of non-traditional communication vehicles such as cultural and sporting exchanges. It measures US public sentiment towards Japan through quantitative analysis of survey responses collected by Pew Research Center in conjunction with the Sasakawa Peace Foundation. The success of Japan’s cultural and sporting exports highlights their potential and realised role in binding national ties. Furthermore, Tokyo’s hosting of the Summer Olympiad emphasises the role of sport not only as a vehicle for competition and entertainment but also its utility in global engagement.
Politicisation has characterised diplomatic gift-giving to the United Nations since its early years. Donations of decor and furnishings in some instances can be an equaliser, and in others can accentuate inequalities. Member States’ motives range from altruistic to self-seeking, but larger purposes are served, including increased cross-cultural understanding and community building.
Costas M. Constantinou
The Broken Chair, a colossal sculpture positioned in the Place de Nations outside the main entrance to the Palais de Nations — the UN Office at Geneva — provides a site and a micro-geography of diplomacy. This essay examines this transgressive gift to the UN, challenging customary norms of gift-giving, and its energetic use by liminal diplomatic subjects pursuing diverse causes. It explores the social life and agential competences of this diplomatic object, its ability to recontextualise ‘the square of nations’ and to affect and empower those connected to it. Overall, it surveys its vibrant materiality that supports alternative diplomatic presence and possibility.
This essay presents the findings of empirical research on gift exchange in contemporary Chinese diplomacy (2003-2019). Two patterns emerged that can be structurally explained by the type of relationship in which the diplomatic practice is mobilised: ceremonial gift exchange in more hierarchical relations and convivial gift exchange in more egalitarian relations. Additionally, this case study allows us to observe the impact of the ‘mediatisation and societisation of diplomacy’ on what is — presumably — a universal, transhistorical practice.
Gifts to US Presidents from foreign leaders between 2001 and 2016 are analysed in this essay, to assess the motivation behind the choice of gift against the background of the regulated character of the transaction through the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act. Seven strategies are identified: showcasing the culture of the gifting country; highlighting the bilateral relationship; praising US culture and values; praising or appealing to the interests of the President; offering a nice gift; impressing through a lavish gift and supporting the luxury exports of the gifting country. The first three strategies acknowledge the regulated character of the gift exchange, the next three try to mask it in a focus on the personal and the seventh combines elements of both. Prior co-ordination with the US side sometimes influences the choice of gift.
Gift exchange was an integral and crucial part of Byzantine diplomacy. The practice of Byzantine gift-giving varied with diplomatic context. The main division is that between Byzantine diplomacy with Muslim rulers and Byzantine diplomacy with (Christian) rulers to the North and West. While the former happened on a more egalitarian footing, the latter was structured in more explicitly hierarchical terms. This difference was reflected in the practice of gift exchange: in who participated, how they comported themselves and the nature of the objects being exchanged. Even so, in both contexts, the function of diplomatic gift-giving was to claim and justify authority, be that the authority of the One (Byzantine Emperor) over the Many (Christian rulers, people of the Roman lands), or the authority of the Few (Byzantine Emperor and Muslim Caliph) over the Many (their respective subordinates).
In recent decades the interdisciplinary study of elite gift exchange in various geographical and temporal contexts has transformed historians’ understanding of colonial diplomacy. By combining analysis of textual, visual and material sources with theoretical approaches to material culture and gift exchange from anthropology, scholars have increasingly come to examine colonial diplomacy not only through the high-politics and text-based operations of bureaucrats in imperial metropoles, but also as a material and cultural project operating through the local and personal. This essay uses the published account of John Hanning Speke (1863) and his descriptions of ‘gift exchanges’ in present-day Uganda to understand the materiality of early British diplomacy there. As Speke was the first Briton to reach Uganda, it examines how gift exchanges impacted the logistics and outcomes of his visit. Re-examining his text this way reveals the importance of material knowledge, performance and exchange in early cross-cultural encounters in the region.
Diplomatic gifts are deeply paradoxical: they signal ‘peace’ between polities constituted by ‘power’ (peace-and-power paradox); they are exchanged between rulers of contiguous territories so as to momentarily signal a merger of separate entities (paradox of overlapping sovereignties). This essay uses a systems-theoretical approach to uncover this paradox in national laws of state awards. The analysis culminates in a conjectural legal norm prohibiting states to use diplomatic gifts or, to the extreme, a paradoxical norm containing the self-negation and self-prohibition of diplomacy. The essay finally discusses how the peace-and-power paradox and its invisibilisation permeates the whole system of diplomacy.
Iver B. Neumann
This conclusion to the forum on diplomatic gifts goes on to note two historical types of such gifts. They are, first, fostering of a royal child at another royal court and, second, royal and noble marriage exchanges. Using these examples as a stepping stone, this essay goes on to formulate a co-ordination system of giver and receiver assessments of gift value, ranging from low to high. This yields four types of gifts: personalised gifts (low value to giver, high value to receiver); unique gifts (high value to both parties); culturally irrelevant gifts (high value to giver, low value to receiver) and fluff (low value to both parties). The essay hypothesises that polities that approach one another in a situation of contacts with low density will tend to aim for unique gifts, while polities whose relations are dense will aim for gifts that are of equal value to both parties.
Publication date: February 2021