An "Assertive" China?

Insights from Interviews

Published in: Asian Security, v. 9, no. 2, 2013, p. 111-131

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2013

by Andrew Scobell, Scott W. Harold

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Recent years have witnessed the emergence of a more assertive China. What happened to China's "peaceful rise" and "charm offensive"? What explains the changes in China's foreign policy? According to interviews with Beijing and Shanghai-based analysts, China's assertiveness between 2008 and 2010 can be divided into two waves, each triggered by a different cause. The first wave seems triggered by a sense in Beijing that Washington, DC was more differential to China's interests, and less committed to East Asia. The second wave seems best explained as China's response to what it perceived as a far more assertive and threatening United States. Both waves were amplified by two domestic challenges: Chinese leaders' hypersensitivity to popular nationalism and poor bureaucratic coordination among an expanding number of foreign policy actors.

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