Skip to main content

Unit information: Contemporary Chinese Foreign Policy in 2018/19

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Contemporary Chinese Foreign Policy
Unit code POLI30023
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Zhang
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit is designed to engage students in critical examination of key challenges to Chinese foreign policy and international relations. It looks at how history, geography and domestic politics combined help shape China’s world outlook, as well as the motivations, objectives and drivers of Chinese foreign policy. It also examines the structure and processes of Chinese foreign policy-making in China’s Party-state political system with particular reference to the new leadership of Xi Jinping. Within this analytical framework, major challenges to Chinese foreign policy are to be discussed, including China’s great power relations with the US and Japan, China’s pursuit of regionalism in East Asia, and China’s engagement with economic globalization and global governance. Through these discussions, the global impact of a rising China is also to be debated.

This unit aims to help students:
• Acquire an analytical understanding of various aspects of contemporary Chinese foreign policy;
• Develop analytical ability/skill to explain the structure and processes of Chinese foreign policy making;
• Formulate critical assessment of China’s changing role in global politics and world economy; and
• Understand the impact of a rising China on the transformation of the regional and global international system.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:
• Obtain a broad understanding of key drivers of Chinese foreign policy;
• Demonstrate critical knowledge about the structure and processes of Chinese foreign policy making;
• Engage in critical analysis of various challenges of and to Chinese foreign policy;
• Make informed assessment of the impact of a rising China on regional and global international relations.

Teaching details

1 hour lecture + 2 hours seminar per week

Assessment Details

  • 1000 word essay outline (0%)
  • 3000 word essay (100%)

Both assess all learning outcomes.

Reading and References

Christensen, Thomas (2015) The China Challenge: Shaping the Choice of a Rising Power, New York: W. W. Norton.

Deng, Yong (2008) China’s Struggle for Status: Realignment of International Relations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Jakobson, Linda and Dean Knox (2010) New Foreign Policy Actors in China, SIPRI Policy Paper No. 26, Stockholm: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Nathan, Andrew and Andrew Scobell (2014) China’s Search for Security, New York: Columbia University Press.

Shambaugh, David (2013) China Goes Global: The Partial Power, New York: Oxford University Press.

Wang, Jisi (2011) ‘China’s Search for a Grand Strategy—A Rising Power Finds Its Way’, Foreign Affairs, 90 (2): 68-79.