Rising Star: China¿s New Security Diplomacy


China's diplomatic strategy has changed dramatically since the mid-1990s, creating both challenges and opportunities for the United States. U.S. policymakers have only just begun to comprehend these critical changes, however, and all too often their China policy has been incoherent. In Rising Star, Bates Gill points the way out of this morass. Based on a comprehensive and far-reaching analysis of the transformation in China's security diplomacy, he persuasively makes the case ...

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China's diplomatic strategy has changed dramatically since the mid-1990s, creating both challenges and opportunities for the United States. U.S. policymakers have only just begun to comprehend these critical changes, however, and all too often their China policy has been incoherent. In Rising Star, Bates Gill points the way out of this morass. Based on a comprehensive and far-reaching analysis of the transformation in China's security diplomacy, he persuasively makes the case for a more nuanced and focused policy toward Beijing.

Over the past decade, China's approach to regional and global security affairs has become more proactive, practical, and constructive. This trend favors U.S. interests in many ways. Yet China's new strategy has also bolstered its international influence and may enhance its ability to resolve

thorny issues —such as Taiwan's future —on its own terms. In exploring these dynamics, s ing Star fofocuses on Chinese policy in three areas — regional security mechanisms, nonproliferation and arms control, and questions of sovereignty and intervention. The concluding chapter analyzes

U.S.-China relations and offers specific recommendations toward a framework that emphasizes what the two countries have in common, rather than what divides them.

Today, China's rise presents the international community with a tremendous challenge. Successfully managing this transition will require informed realism, astute management, and nimble diplomacy. Timely and vital, ng Star off offers essential guidance to policymakers approaching this task, and provides insightful understanding for all those interested in Chinese foreign policy both in the United States and around the world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The argument of this well-researched and useful volume is that since the middle of the last decade, Beijing's foreign and security policy have shifted away from previous unilateralism toward cooperation, consultation and the playing of a responsible and constructive role with respect to areas ranging from regional security to nuclear proliferation." —Arthur Waldron, Far East Economic Review Forum

"This is a scholarly, balanced and deeply researched book which makes a valuable contribution to an understanding of China's grand strategy and of how the new security diplomacy works in practice. It reads easily and deserves a wide readership not just among specialists but by generalists with foreign policy interests or involvement." —Stuart Harris, The China Journal

"Prominent Washington-based China specialist Bates Gill has applied his expertise in contemporary Chinese international security policy to fill what he sees as a gap in book-length studies of recent Chinese foreign and security policy. This important study is clearly organized, well written, and well documented; it is sure to be read widely." —Marc Lanteigne, University of St. Andrews, Journal of Asian Studies

"Gill's Rising Star offers an in-depth and timely illustration of China's evolving foreign policy and a careful description of challenges and opportunities. It also contains critical recommendations which, if heeded in Beijing and Western capitals, could lower the risks of misunderstanding and miscalculations over 'China's rise.'" —Christian Constantin, University of British Columbia, Pacific Affairs

"Drawing on author's own observations and through studies of primary sources, Rising Star is a timely analysis of important changes in Beijing's foreign policy....I feel that this book is an important contribution to our understanding of Beijing's security diplomacy in the age of China's rise. The book can be not only a helpful reference for China scholars and researchers, but also a useful textbook for graduate students." —Sheng Ding, Bloomsburg University, Journal of Chinese Political Science

"Bates Gill has written a clear and updated study of China's 'new security diplomacy' and the ways in which Chinese security thinking has changed in recent years." — Survival

Foreign Affairs
Most current writing on China concentrates on its economic achievements,but this study focuses on Beijing's strategic thinking. Gill is convinced that China has fundamentally changed its global and regional security diplomacy, abandoning ideology and revolution in an effort to gain acceptance as a responsible member of the international system. He takes seriously Beijing's statements that it is time to discard the Cold War mentality and build a new international system, based on mutual trust, shared benefits, and equality; he also examines in some detail Beijing's record of working with its neighbors in various security arrangements and in various United Nations peacekeeping missions. If the United States takes a sympathetic approach, Gill argues, it can win over China; after all, both countries have a strong interest in avoiding war and expanding trade. Such optimism about the possibilities for constructive U.S.-Chinese relations will prompt some to denounce Gill as a "panda hugger," but that would be grossly unfair. His analysis is based on solid research and deep knowledge of Chinese thought and behavior, and when the Chinese fail to meet his standards for constructive behavior, he does not hesitate to take them to task for it.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815731467
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2007
  • Pages: 265
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Bates Gill is the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Prior to joining CSIS, he served as inaugural director of the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution. A former holder of the Fei Yiming Chair in Comparative Politics at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing, China, Gill has also directed East Asia programs at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute. He is a coauthor of China the Balance Sheet: What the World Needs to Know about the Emerging Superpower (PublicAffairs, 2006).

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Read an Excerpt

Rising Star

China's New Security Diplomacy
By Bates Gill

Brookings Institution Press

Copyright © 2007 Brookings Institution Press
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8157-3146-7

Chapter One

The New Security Diplomacy Only by developing a new security concept and establishing a fair and reasonable new international order can world peace and security be fundamentally guaranteed. China's National Defense in 2000, Information Office of the State Council, October 2000 Since the mid-1990s, China's global and regional security diplomacy has dramatically changed. Overall, China is pursuing positions on regional and global security matters that are far more consistent with broad international norms and practice than in the past. China's approach to regional and global security affairs has become more proactive, practical, and constructive, a pattern that looks likely to continue for years to come.

Through a combination of pragmatic security policies, growing economic clout, and increasingly deft diplomacy, China has established productive and increasingly solid relationships throughout Asia and around the globe, to include new partnerships in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Europe, Africa, and South America. While these developments predate September 11, 2001, they have unfolded at a time of strategic preoccupation on the part of the United States, both in military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and in the global counterterrorism campaign. This last, in turn, has opened strategic space for China to expand its influence at both regional and global levels. As present trends continue in the regional and global security dynamic, China may eclipse Japan as the predominant Asian power in the western Pacific, solidify its role as the key player shaping regional diplomatic and political developments around Eurasia, and strengthen China-driven security relationships in the region and around the world.

In short, as a rising star in the constellation of great powers, China and its new security diplomacy present momentous opportunities and challenges for the international community, for the Asia-Pacific region, and for United States. On the one hand, China has increasingly embraced global and regional security policies that vastly improve its image and position within the international system and that are more consistent with international norms, regional expectations, and U.S. interests. At the same time, fortified by this increased political, diplomatic, and military power in both global and regional security affairs, Beijing is in a better position to realize more self-interested security aims over the longer term (such as resolving the Taiwan question on its terms or asserting itself more forcefully as a regional political-military power), which could be disruptive to regional stability and could even lead to confrontation with regional powers. The strategic stakes of China's new security diplomacy and its outcome are very high. Unfortunately, too little attention and analysis is given either to solidifying the opportunities presented by China's new security diplomacy or to recognizing and deflecting its potential challenges.

Given these opportunities and challenges, it is critically important to analyze China's new security diplomacy and its implications. How has China's global and regional security diplomacy changed, why has it changed, and will this new approach last? What are the motivations and outcomes of this new approach at global and regional levels? In what key areas will these changes in Chinese security diplomacy most profoundly affect global and regional affairs and the interests of the world's major powers, including the United States? What are the opportunities and challenges presented by these developments for U.S. influence and security interests, both in Asia and globally, and for future U.S.-China relations? This book seeks to provide answers and policy responses to these questions.

Not a September 11 Phenomenon

China's new security diplomacy can trace its roots to the early 1980s and a single consistent assumption about the nature of international politics and security-that the overall tendency of world affairs is toward peace and development, increased multipolarity and economic globalization, and a general easing of tensions. Despite dramatic shifts in the security environment internationally and for China since the 1980s, Beijing continues to pronounce an adherence to this supposition.

It is important to recognize that this outlook is not merely a result of post-September 11, 2001, changes in the international security environment, a watershed to which far too many analysts understandably, but often too readily, look in gauging other powers' policies and intentions. Rather, while the post-September 11 environment has opened new opportunities for China's evolving security diplomacy to succeed, that strategy has more fundamental antecedents that considerably predate September 11. In that sense, today's Chinese security diplomacy is less tactical and ephemeral than is sometimes assumed and needs to be taken more seriously and analyzed more carefully.

China's new security diplomacy is rooted in the strategic verdict determined by the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, who, in 1982, concluded that the world was tending toward peace and development, the possibility of a world war was remote, and China could expect a stable international environment in which it could carry out its much-needed domestic development. Deng's pronouncement was a major reversal of the Maoist line of war and revolution and preparation "for an early war, a major war, and nuclear war," which during the first several decades of the People's Republic contributed to disastrous economic hardship, ideological struggle, and international isolation.

This broad strategic view was given further impetus in response to major challenges China began to face on foreign and domestic fronts in the late 1980s. The country first was forced to deal with the diplomatic isolation imposed by the West in the wake of the bloody suppression of the Tiananmen demonstrations in the spring of 1989. Later that year, China, as a Communist country, sensed all the more its isolation as one by one the Communist countries of Soviet-dominated Europe broke free from Moscow's orbit, ousted their Communist Party leadership, and established mostly pro-Western governments. Then in early 1991 China stood by while the United States led a UN-sanctioned coalition of countries to repel Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait and decimate Iraq's armed forces (including vast quantities of Chinese weaponry) in an awesome display of high-tech firepower. In the next year, with great trepidation, China witnessed the collapse and break up of the Soviet Union.

Following the end of the bipolar, cold war world, Chinese leaders and strategic analysts were further troubled to find that, contrary to their expectations, the international security situation did not shift to a more multipolar balance of great powers. This commonly held outlook in China included the view that American power would steadily wane and foresaw an expanded role for multilateral institutions-in particular the United Nations-to govern relationships among states. Rather, over the course of the 1990s Chinese analysts became increasingly concerned with U.S. global primacy, even hegemony, and with its ability to mobilize powerful allied force to achieve its security goals. Of particular concern for Chinese strategists was whether the United States and its allies would use force against China or in a way detrimental to Chinese interests. This was especially worrisome to Beijing given the increasing pro-independence tendencies and intentions expressed on the Taiwan political scene from the mid-1990s onward. Official Chinese pronouncements in the 1990s also stressed broader international problems, such as the need to establish a more "democratic international system" and "fair and rational new international political and economic order," in order to narrow the political and economic gap between the developed and the developing world. They expressed strong concerns that "some countries" wrongly exercise "hegemony," "power politics," and policies of preemption, which infringe upon the sovereignty of smaller states and impose the will of the strong upon the weak.

At home, China faced increasing challenges as well. As China's policies of gaige kaifang (reform and opening up) took hold, the country experienced increasingly difficult political, social, and economic growing pains. The Tiananmen demonstrations of 1989 were a wake-up call for the Chinese Communist Party regarding the need to maintain its power through a kind of grand bargain with the Chinese citizenry: keep the party in power in return for continuing economic growth and prosperity. But the spectacular economic progress of the 1990s, while helping defer overt political threats to the regime, also brought with it new social and economic challenges. Chinese leaders clearly recognized this dilemma and became increasingly concerned with addressing burgeoning domestic problems, including pervasive official corruption, widening income gaps between rich and poor, widespread layoffs and underemployment in the state sector, extensive environmental degradation, a fragile banking and financial sector, an ailing social welfare and public health system, and frequent localized disgruntlement and unrest. Managing these growing sociopolitical and socioeconomic challenges at home, while also maintaining political leadership and expanding the domestic economy, became priority number one for Beijing.


Following Deng's strategic advice, and in response to the challenges on its foreign and domestic fronts over the 1990s, Beijing's security diplomacy cohered into certain tifa, or authoritative formulations, emanating from Chinese officialdom and its strategists. These include the notions of a "new security concept," acting as a "responsible great power," and "China's peaceful rise," for example, all of which feed into some emergent "new thinking" about the country's diplomacy within China's strategic and political elites. The new security concept draws from principles formally advocated by the Chinese government since the 1950s, in particular the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, which date back to the Bandung Conference of developing world nations in 1955. The Chinese have for decades called on nations to observe these principles. However, in 1994-95 the Chinese began making high-profile appeals for the establishment of a "new" system for international order. For example, the November 1995 Chinese white paper on arms control states that with regard to security in the Asia-Pacific region, it is necessary to "establish a new mutual respect and friendly relationship between nations" based upon not only the five principles but also common economic development, peaceful settlement of disputes, and bilateral and multilateral dialogues and consultations. According to the white paper, all nations should "spare no effort to establish a new peaceful, stable, fair, and reasonable international political and economic order."

These early formulations cohered more distinctly into the idea of a new security concept by July 1998, when Beijing's Information Office of the State Council issued a white paper:

The world is undergoing profound changes, which require the discard of the Cold War mentality and the development of a new security concept and a new international political, economic, and security order responsive to the needs of our times.

The core of the new security concept should be mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, and cooperation. The UN Charter, the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, and other universally recognized principles governing international relations should serve as the political basis for safeguarding peace, while mutually beneficial cooperation and common prosperity [is] its economic guarantee. To conduct dialogue, consultation, and negotiation on an equal footing is the right way to solve disputes and safeguard peace.

Only by developing a new security concept and establishing a fair and reasonable new international order can world peace and security be fundamentally guaranteed.

In a major foreign policy speech delivered in Geneva in March 1999, Chinese leader Jiang Zemin presented the core of the new security concept, and much of the thinking behind the concept is enshrined in the declaration at the Sixteenth Chinese Communist Party Congress in 2002.

Noting that the first twenty years of the twenty-first century would be a window of "strategic opportunity" in which to pursue its goal of "comprehensively building a well-off society," the document, echoing Deng Xiaoping of twenty years before, states that because a "new world war is unlikely in the foreseeable future," one could realistically "expect a fairly long period of peace in the world and a favorable climate in the areas around China." It continues, "We will continue to cement our friendly ties with neighbors and persist in building good-neighborly relationships and partnerships with them. We will step up regional cooperation and raise our exchanges and cooperation with our surrounding countries to a new height."

Chinese politicians and strategists also began to speak of China as a fuzeren de daguo (responsible great power). This term emerged most openly in association with Beijing's decision not to devalue its currency during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, a decision that received widespread praise and appreciation from the region and around the world. Since then, the term has been used more broadly both to describe China's changing diplomatic posture and as a longer term foreign policy goal to which China should aspire. Increasingly, the notion of a responsible major power points to a Chinese security diplomacy that is less victimized, less aggrieved, and less alienated and that more actively supports and operates within international norms and multilateral institutions such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the ASEAN Regional Forum, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and others.

For example, from the early 2000s, and particularly from 2001, the Chinese approach to the new security concept and to its regional security strategy became less stridently reactive. This trend predates the global shifts brought on by the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States but was accelerated by them, as the new strategic concern of terrorism overtook and sidetracked overt contentiousness between the United States and China. China's entry into the World Trade Organization in December 2001 and a stable transition to the new, fourth-generation leadership in Beijing in 2002-03 further strengthened China's more confident approach toward the international and regional security situation.

China's defense white paper of 2002 expresses the view that "peace and development remain the themes of the present era," that a new world war is "unlikely in the foreseeable future," and that multipolarization and economic globalization continue apace, though "amid twists and turns." The Asia-Pacific region is viewed with particular favor as the "most dynamic region economically with the greatest development potential in the world." The white paper adds that "strengthening dialogue and cooperation, maintaining regional stability, and promoting common development have become the mainstream policy of the Asian countries." References to "factors of instability," "hegemonism," and "power politics" are less prominent, while the emergence of "non-traditional security challenges," particularly terrorism, is frequently mentioned as a problem China and the world must face together. Across the spectrum of China's foreign policy elite, new calls emerged in 2001-03 for a more mature, constructive, and responsible great power diplomacy for China. As Evan Medeiros and M. Taylor Fravel found, this new approach seems to abandon China's long-held and reactive "victimhood" complex, puts the country's "century of shame" to one side, and identifies more closely with a "great power mentality" befitting China's larger and more secure position in regional and global affairs.


Consistent with Deng Xiaoping's grand strategy and the notion of a new security concept, in the early 2000s senior Chinese leaders and strategists, particularly those associated with China's fourth-generation leadership, began to speak of Zhongguo de heping jueqi (China's peaceful rise). The formulation, most closely associated with one of the Chinese leadership's senior advisers, Zheng Bijian, expresses both a confidence and an acknowledgement that China is a rising power but also asserts that China's emergence will not be disruptive. The notion was most prominently asserted with the publication of a major article on China's peaceful rise by Zheng Bijian in the U.S. journal Foreign Affairs in the fall of 2005, which further confirmed this approach as the mainstream and dominant foreign policy line within Chinese leadership circles. The approach gained even more solid footing and official blessing with the issuance in December 2005 of the Chinese government white paper China's Peaceful Development Road. China's effort to vigorously promote this concept is interesting on many levels and reveals much about China's evolving new security diplomacy.


Excerpted from Rising Star by Bates Gill Copyright © 2007 by Brookings Institution Press . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Table of Contents

Table of contents:
1. The New Security Diplomacy
2. Regional Security Mechanisms
3. Nonproliferation and Arms Control
4. Sovereignty and Intervention
5. Challenges for U.S. Policy
6. Opportunities for U.S. Policy
7. Looking Ahead
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  • Posted November 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Scholarly analysis of Chinese diplomacy

    Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once described diplomacy as "the art of restraining power." As China unleashes its economic power, and its political and military strengths continue to mount, what role will diplomacy play in China's fate in the 21st century? In great depth and detail, author Bates Gill, an expert on China's foreign policy, explains a dramatic change in the way China views the world, and in its approach to national security and international relations. This shift has taken China far from the Maoist age of supporting terrorism and counterrevolution, and into a new era that emphasizes collaboration and cooperation, participation in international initiatives, and some compromise on such issues as sovereignty. Gill scrutinizes each cog in China's diplomatic machine (except the U.S.'s debt, which has grown in signficance over time) and provides a thorough historical background. Though this book is remarkably well-researched and revealing, its style is more suitable to academia than to general interest reading. Yet, getAbstract reckons that international relations enthusiasts with an interest in China's role in the world can learn a lot from it.

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