Title page for ETD etd-07282008-131332

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Doan, Thanh Song
Email doanthaisong@yahoo.com
URN etd-07282008-131332
Document Title The ‘new diplomacy’ of the People’s Republic of China : 2000-2005
Degree MDIPS
Department Political Sciences
Advisor Name Title
Prof A du Plessis Supervisor
  • partnership
  • diplomatic strategies
  • economic diplomacy
  • foreign policy
  • oil diplomacy
  • negotiation
  • diplomatic style
  • People’s Republic of China
  • China’s ‘new diplomacy’
  • diplomacy
Date 2007-09-05
Availability restricted
The aim of this study is to analyse the diplomatic style of China, manifested in its ‘new diplomacy’, and to differentiate it from Western-centric diplomacy. It addresses the question: What are the foundations, nature and scope of the 'new' in the Chinese diplomatic style and how does this (the ‘new’) manifest in the use of ‘new diplomacy’ as an instrument of China’s foreign policy? Accordingly the study analyses the characteristics of contemporary Chinese diplomacy and uses selected case studies to illustrate the manifestations of this ‘new’ diplomatic style. The analysis is based on the proposition that although China’s ‘new diplomacy’ reflects a past legacy and certain Western features, its diplomatic style nevertheless has a distinct oriental nature that influences the country’s use of diplomacy as a foreign policy instrument.

The study originates from the fact that China (i.e. the People's Republic of China – PRC) has always been an important country. It has long been the world's most populous nation, with vast economic potential that is now being realised. It is also one of the world's oldest and most influential civilizations. Accordingly, China's international influence is increasing and it may well challenge United States leadership in world politics. Conversely, China features prominently in both the regional and global economic and strategic landscape.

Concerning the foreign context of China’s ‘new diplomacy’, attention focussed on the geopolitical-historical, the ideological, the foreign policy, the regional and the perceptual dimensions thereof. Since its inception the PRC has experienced three main phases of development; each closely associated with foreign policy and a distinctive style of diplomacy. The first ‘closed door’ phase was characterised by limited foreign interaction typical of a ‘new state’. The second ‘open door’ stage was brought about by the emerging trends and transformations linked to greater interdependence and the end of the Cold War. The third ‘enlargement’ stage involves expansion in an era of globalisation, also considering the need for and demands of China’s domestic development, growth and transformation.

Although the generic features of China’s diplomacy are rooted in the nature of diplomacy and not unique, its diplomacy has certain oriental characteristics and a distinctive style. The characteristics thereof have imbued Chinese diplomacy with a measure of distinctiveness. These include the emphasis of independence in decision-making along with an active engagement in international affairs; the dialectical application of ‘principles-ness and flexibility’ and of ‘cooperation and struggle’; a flexible adaptation to changing situations; a flexible application of inaction; and new negotiating style. These characteristics are strengthened by diplomatic strategies, namely the emphasis of partnership, friendly gestures, peaceful development, economic diplomacy, multilateral diplomacy, the moral high ground and specific diplomatic tactics. The selected case studies on China’s oil diplomacy, on Taiwan, on the war in Iraq, and on support for UN multilateralism provide an indication of how the characteristics and strategies of China’s ‘new diplomacy’ manifest in practice.

In conclusion, it was found that although China’s ‘new diplomacy’ reflects a past legacy and certain Western-centric features, its diplomatic style nevertheless has a distinct oriental nature that permeates and influences the country’s use of diplomacy as a foreign policy instrument. The recognition of this provides both the scholar and practitioner the ability to identify continuity in Chinese foreign policy and to anticipate trends and transformations in the diplomatic practices and behaviour of Chinese diplomatic representatives. The analysis of diplomacy as a foreign policy’s instrument, in China’s case in particular, undoubtedly enriches diplomatic theory. As such it is a relevant field of study that deserves more scholarly attention.

© University of Pretoria 2007

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