Un China

In: Social Issues

Submitted By DrunkAlready
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Pages 39
‘Doing some things’ in the Xi Jinping era: the United Nations as China’s venue of choice
ROSEMARY FOOT * There has been intense scholarly debate in China over the past few years as to the continuing relevance of the famous aphorism attributed to Deng Xiaoping exhorting the Chinese government to ‘bide its time, hide its brightness, not seek leadership, but do some things’.1 Although that debate about the appropriateness of this strategy in an era of enhanced Chinese material power has not reached a definitive conclusion, there are several indications that the new leadership, under President Xi Jinping, has decided that it would like to become more active and ‘do more’ in the international realm. How much more, in reality, will undoubtedly be influenced by the reactions of others and the unfolding of events—both domestic and global—but undoubtedly there is an intention on the part of Beijing to make good on its increase in relative power and the opportunities that a more centralized leadership under President Xi Jinping provides for articulating a clearer foreign policy message and more forward foreign policy behaviour. This article provides evidence in support of the argument that China has decided to adopt a more activist foreign policy. It focuses predominantly on China’s policy towards the United Nations as a way of demonstrating a new willingness to take decisions previously left in abeyance, and as an example of a policy area where the Chinese leadership believes it is showing a desire and an ability to contribute to global public goods. In particular, I explain here why the UN is favoured by China as a venue for displaying a more globalist stance, focusing on the UN’s institutional design and on China’s longstanding involvement in peace operations as the primary sources of the country’s increased activism in a multilateral venue of high importance to it.

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