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"Chinese Strategies in a US-Hegemonic Global Order: Accommodating and Hedging"

Journal Article, International Affairs, volume 82, issue 1, pages 77-94

January 2006

Author: Rosemary Foot, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2005-2006

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security



China's economic, political and military influence has been increasing at a time when the United States, as sole superpower, dominates the international order. This article outlines Chinese elite perspectives on the current global order and shows not only how these perceptions have affected China's policies towards the United States, but also how they have influenced China's regional and global policies more broadly. It argues that variants of realist logic that interpret Chinese behaviour as a form of balancing are not particularly helpful, and do not capture the essence of Chinese strategies that are underpinned by an overwhelming focus on its domestic development needs. The article posits that Chinese leaders have accepted that they operate in a unipolar order and have chosen not to stick out for negotiating positions that the United States would see as seriously detrimental to its interests. However, Beijing couples this accommodating approach with policies designed to ensure that, were relations seriously to deteriorate with Washington, China could draw on deepened regional and global ties to thwart any US effort to interrupt its domestic objectives. China's hope is that a more ‘democratic’ international order will emerge, which means not multipolarity as such but a ‘concert of great powers system’ that will operate to forge multilateral cooperation among the major states.


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Full text of this publication is available at:

For Academic Citation:

Foot, Rosemary. "Chinese Strategies in a US-Hegemonic Global Order: Accommodating and Hedging." International Affairs 82, no. 1 (January 2006): 77-94.

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