Chinese decision-making in response to


Chinese Foreign Policy – Toward an Integrated Understanding of Macro and



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2.1. Chinese Foreign Policy – Toward an Integrated Understanding of Macro and
Micro Factors
Concurrent with the historical course of the PRC, Chinese foreign policy features four major periods (1) between 1949 and 1976, when Mao Zedong
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was the paramount leader, policies were mostly driven by ideology, revolution and class struggles (2) between 1976 and the mid-1990s, when Deng Xiaoping was the paramount leader, the focus changed to economic reforms, opening up to other countries, national unification and world peace) between the mid-1990s and 2004, when Jiang Zemin was the third- generation predominant leader, the emphasis shifted to deepening economic reforms and being a responsible member of the international community and (4) since 2004, when Hu
Jintao took the fourth-generation leadership, China is moving toward a peaceful ascent in Like many other countries, China has had difficulty articulating its foreign policy on the international front. The primary Romanization system used in this dissertation for Chinese characters is Hanyu Pinyin, which is commonly practiced in the PRC. Wade-Giles Romanization is commonly used in Taiwan, for instance, Mao Tse-tung, Chou En-lai, Chiang Kai-shek, Kuomintang (KMT), Lee Teng-hui, which are equivalent to Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Jiang Jieshi, Guomindang (GMD), Li Denghui, respectively. Although he officially retired from the Chinese political stage in 1989, Deng Xiaoping remained the paramount leader, as many observers and pundits believe, from behind the scenes until his health severely deteriorated in the mid-1990s.
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the international scene.
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The leadership transitions show that Chinese authoritarianism has grown from individual-centered instability toward a combination of continued focus on the predominant leader combined with institutional development. By and large, the vast literature produced in China and the Weston Chinese foreign policy can be categorized into two types – the macro approach and the micro approach. The macro approach, or the international-system-centered approach, treats the state as a black box and assumes that Chinese foreign behavior follows the logic of national interests defined in realpolitik terms on national security, power and alliance
(Zhao, 2004: 4). Proponents of this approach primarily look at Beijing’s view of the nature and structure of the international system, balance of power, alliance formation and strategic interactions with other actors in the international system. The micro, or state- centered, approach looks internally at China’s cultural and institutional influences on its foreign policy behavior (Zhao, 2004). Furthermore, this approach studies individual leaders idiosyncratic and cognitive characteristics, factional struggles among leaders Nathan, 1973; MacFarquhar, 1974; Huang, 2000) and their implications for Chinese foreign policy decisions. Specifically, according to the state-centered perspective, Chinese foreign policy is mostly driven and characterized by communist ideology (Chen,
2001), nationalism (Shen, 2004; Zhao, 2004; Chen, 2005), pragmatism (Zhao, 2004), individual idiosyncrasy (Chen, 2001), factionalism (Pye, 1968; Solomon, 1999; Huang,
2000), civil-military relations (Cheng, 1966; Gittings, 1967; Joffee, 1967; Whitson, 1973;
Godwin, 1976, 1978; Perlmutter and LeoGrande, 1982; Paltiel, 1995; Swaine, 1998), Since coverage of foreign policy crises in this study ranges from Mao Zedong’s era to Deng Xiaoping’s and later to Jiang Zemin’s, the most recent Chinese leadership under Hu Jintao is beyond the scope of this project and therefore not discussed here. The implications of this project for the contemporary era under Hus leadership will be discussed in the concluding chapter.
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strategic culture (Zhao, 2004)
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, military thinking (Zhang and Yao, 2004), and bureaucratic politics (Lampton, 1987; Lieberthal and Oksenberg, 1988). Although shaped and heavily influenced by these factors, there is little consensus on which among these have the most significant effects. In the last decade, a sustained theoretical trend in studies of Chinese foreign policy aims to link elements at the micro and macro levels (e.g. Robinson and
Shambough, 1994; Zhao, 1996). This new approach attempts to integrate micro-level variables (e.g., individual characteristics, cognitive constraints and domestic political and socioeconomic contexts) with macro-level variables (e.g., international dynamics. The trend in research effectively responds to the need for more comprehensive efforts to interpret Chinese foreign policy behavior. Specifically, the macro-micro linkage incorporates system-level factors and constraints, dynamics within the domestic society, individual/collective decision-makers’ policy preferences as well as the interactions of all these elements (Zhao, 1996). For instance, Zhao’s analysis offers an insightful integration of social science and traditional area studies by looking into Chinese foreign policy with a theoretical model that combines both macro and micro variables. Zhao’s theoretical framework appears powerful however, his substantive analysis is weak and at places inadequate to solve some important puzzles concerning Chinese foreign policy
(Hao, 1998). Moreover, his analysis starts from 1978, which falls short of offering a comprehensive explanation of Chinese foreign policy since 1949. It is difficult to tell whether his macro-micro integration is applicable and useful to Chinese foreign policy The debate on China’s strategic culture has shifted its focus from how China has different philosophical views on the moral and weaponry factors in conflict and war to how to define China’s national interests and how to reconcile the long-term and short-term interests of China (Zhao, 2004: 10).
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behavior prior to 1978. Furthermore, systematic analysis of Chinese foreign policy decision-making, whether in international relations or Sinology, so far has achieved limited success, at least when compared to the study of Chinese domestic politics (Bobrow, Chan and Kringen,
1977: 27; Harding, 1994; Zhao, 1996: 7-8; Yang, 2002). In terms of quantity, studies specifically focusing on Chinese foreign policy take only a small proportion of all of the literature on Chinese politics. In terms of quality, the study of Chinese foreign policy is greatly constrained because of limited, unsystematic access to government archives and reliability of available sources. In addition, within academia in China, behavioralism and empiricism are still in their infancy data collection and statistical skills used in international relations are underdeveloped as compared to the level of sophistication in the West. Underdevelopment in Chinese foreign policy studies, if looked at from a different perspective, is understandable. To a certain degree, it is a reflection that foreign policy is never the top priority for Chinese leaders instead, they have been preoccupied with domestic politics. To Beijing, foreign policy always is a means serving the ends of domestic politics.
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At the time of writing (April 19, 2006), Hu Jintao is visiting Seattle before going to the White House to meet with George W. Bush. Lanxin Xiang, in his commentary in the Washington Post a few days earlier, argues that it is impossible to understand Chinese foreign policy as something independent from its domestic politics Chinese leaders never separate the domestic from the external. When Mao Zedong met Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger in 1972, Nixon made a somewhat flattering remark You have changed the world Nixon, of course, was referring to the Cold War bipolar system. But The literature in FPA suggests that this holds true for other states.
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Mao’s answer reflected a different view. No, I did not change the world, only the downtown or perhaps suburban Beijing He was thinking of domestic politics, lamenting that his Cultural Revolution, as brutal as it was, failed to change the Chinese way of life.
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