Chinese Foreign Policy in the 21st Century: Insights from the Two-Good Theory

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James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy

We analyze recent trends in Chinese international behavior through the use of the two-good theory of foreign policy. That general theory has states pursuing two desired goals change and maintenance, which refer to their abilities to alter or to protect specific aspects of the status quo. The extent to which countries pursue change and maintenance is a function of state preferences and of the relative capabilities of the country. The theory has been tested in other circumstances and has been shown to explain international behavior well. In this paper we introduce our theory briefly and the apply it to three components of Chinese foreign policy- the initiation of international conflict, the formation of alliances, and the donation of foreign aid. We find that the incidence of the Chinese initiation of international conflict is strongly affected by the growth of its economy. Nonetheless, our analysis indicates that, generally, China is significantly less active in seeking to bring about change in the international system than is sometimes alleged. Further, we argue that China has moderated its foreign policy in response to Western diplomatic overtures. We suggest that continued attempts to engage China diplomatically may prove fruitful.

Part of Energy Forum study "China and Long-Range Asia Energy Security: An Analysis of the Political, Economic and Technological Factors Shaping Asian Energy Markets"
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Morgan, T. Clifton and Palmer, Glenn. "Chinese Foreign Policy in the 21st Century: Insights from the Two-Good Theory." (1999) James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy:

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