Along with China’s rapid economic growth, increasing military power, and expanding influence, Chinese foreign policy is becoming a more salient concern for the United States, its allies and partners, and other countries in Asia and around the world. As China’s interests become increasingly global, China is transitioning from a foreign policy that was once concerned principally with dealing with the superpowers, protecting China’s regional interests, and positioning China as a champion of developing countries, to one with a more varied and global agenda. Chinese scholars and practitioners alike recognize that Chinese diplomacy must become more nuanced and sophisticated to keep pace with the new challenges that have accompanied China’s rise and to manage tensions between China’s traditional foreign policy principles and the need to protect Chinese interests not only close to home, but increasingly more globally. At the same time, China’s more active diplomacy under Xi Jinping, particularly its assertive handling of maritime territorial disputes with Japan in the East China Sea and with Vietnam, the Philippines and other rival claimants in the South China Sea, is reshaping how policymakers in Washington, Tokyo, Canberra and other capitals think about responding to the challenge of China’s rising power.

This syllabus is organized to build understanding of Chinese foreign policy in a step-by-step fashion based on one hour of reading five nights a week for four weeks. In total, the key readings add up to roughly 800 pages, rarely more than 40–50 pages for a night. We assume no prior knowledge of Chinese foreign policy, only an interest in developing a clearer sense of how China is using diplomacy to address the challenges associated with its rise. The objective is to help you read beyond the headlines. Our goal is to provide you with the needed tools and knowledge to assist others in researching Chinese foreign policy and begin developing your own thoughts.

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