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China and great power relations: the rules of engagement

27 Jul 2017 - 13:25
Source: The White House/Wikimedia

How will China´s approach to major powers develop between now and the mid-2020s? In this Report Frans-Paul van der Putten explains how the current phase of Chinese great power strategy has two main components.

The first is the Chinese government’s continuing fixation on the United States as a potential threat. The second is coordination and cooperation with other great powers to manage the international system, which is playing an increasingly important role in China’s foreign policy.

The next phase of China’s approach to great powers will start when Beijing no longer regards the United States as an existential threat. Engaging with great powers for a stable international environment will then be an ever more important feature of Chinese foreign policy.

At the same time, Beijing’s strategy to deal with possible threats from great powers will be different from today’s. Foreign powers are then less likely to pose existential threats, and China may be able to address tensions with other great powers bilaterally or within a regional setting. This would enable China to focus on cooperation at the global level.

This study was published as part of 'Chinese Futures: Horizon 2025', a report by the EU Institute for Security Studies, edited by Eva Pejsova in cooperation with Jacob Bund.