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China's diplomatic investment may not yield returns

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Subject

China's diplomatic capabilities.

Significance

China under President Xi Jinping has become more assertive, more activist and more multilateral in its foreign policy. Initiatives such as the 'one belt and one road' commercial strategy, rapid expansion of China's global broadcast media and development of bilateral ties by state-owned enterprises all suggest that China's global network has stronger and deeper roots than before. Beijing's expanding role in multilateral fora, especially new China-led organisations such as the New Development Bank, make a clear break with Deng Xiaoping's strategy of inconspicuous passivity.

Impacts

  • Cultivation of effective diplomatic channels will pay off most in managing relations with antagonists, or where interests diverge.
  • No other country shares China's values sufficiently to upgrade a convergence of interests into a firm alliance.
  • The weakness of China's foreign ministry within the bureaucracy gives Chinese diplomats less influence than their foreign counterparts.
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