Article Review: The game changer: Coping with China’s foreign policy revolution (2010)

Author: Elizabeth C Economy

In 2010, an incident occurred between the Chinese and Japanese. A Chinese ship along with the captain, Zan Qishiong, was detained by Japanese authorities because they were near uninhabited islands in the South China Sea. Japan had insisted that the Chinese man would be prosecuted. The Chinese official government threated Japan that they will terminate the supply of rare earth minerals that would have an impact on the demise of the industrial technology in Japan.[1]
            Some analysts interpreted the Chinese government provocative reaction to Japan as a sign of rising Chinese aggressiveness and arrogance that came with its growing military and economic capability.[2] The incident was a warning that the Chinese began to show strength and began to threaten other countries due to the economic and military progress. China began proclaiming himself to be an important player in the international world.
            The article The Game Changer: Coping with China’s Foreign Policy Evolution that was written by Elizabeth C. Economy explained that China began to evolve. As a country with second largest economic power, China began to change their passive approach to be more active. This article provides empirical evidence that China has certainly risen up and become a major global economic power: in only three decades, it has transformed its economy into the world's second largest exporter, and largest provider of loans to the developing world.
            The author discusses the idea of ​​revolution, either from within and outside. The revolution was started from inside through the vision of Chinese leader who wanted to transform the economy. Now, China wants to export the idea of revolution to the outside world. In order to support the rise of China in a soft way, China did a few strategies. Until 2011, Beijing spent was about five billion euros for the development of foreign media. Most of the money was spent for English-language television stations under the Xinhua News Agency, "Global Times" which was launched in April 2010.
            While most scholars focused to see Beijing’s weak “attractiveness” in areas such as human rights and their authoritarian political system, the author of this article observes the inside perspective about how Beijing’s management of soft power created a proactive agenda setting ability that allows it to achieve much more important goals at the strategic level. This article also gives recommendations on the important role that can be taken by the United States (U.S.). However, I noted several interesting things to discuss.
            First, this article does not offer a new perspective about China. Predictions about the rise of China have been widely voiced by many political scientists. Samuel Huntington in his book The Clash of Civilization also predicted the future conflict that was marked by the rise of China. Although Huntington's book is considered to be inadequate to explain the current reality, it has been predicted that China will be a major force that will ally with Russia and Islamic countries, and then face off with the U.S.[3]
            Second, this article states that the architect of China's economic progress is Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s. The desire to be a superpower country rests on this nation's great history as an empire that was ruled for over 5000 years. This pride can be the basis of nationalism and a key element of Chinese people in order to regain superpower status.
            As noted by Zhang (2012), China's rise is the result of a zhenxing zhonghua philosophy that was started Sun Yat Sen, the founding father of modern China. The founder of modern China saw China's economy was too weak to support the superpower status. That's why China's economy must be built strong to restore the glory.[4]
            Third, this article does not provide a detailed mapping of the hard power and soft power of China. In fact, the approach of hard power and soft power has become a benchmark for the Chinese government to synergize economic growth and military power. As widely known, the concept of soft power, a non-coercive agenda-setting ability, was originally coined and popularized by Joseph Nye (2005). In recent years, soft power has drawn increasing attention among academics. The term also appears with higher frequency in the speeches of more and more global political leaders who uniformly call for their countries to make greater efforts to cultivate and enhance their soft power.[5]
            It is interesting to see how Beijing maintains soft power and hard power. China's hard-power assets have become significantly stronger, as evidenced by its expanded economy and foreign currency reserves, impressive space programs, and rapidly modernizing weapon systems. These developments have engendered widespread anxieties about China's true intentions and willingness to continue with past policies. In particular, a series of events involving China since 2009 have given rise to wide speculation that Beijing is discarding its past "smile diplomacy" and is becoming increasingly aggressive.[6] The soft power will improve our understanding of China’s development, its future intentions, and possible changes in Chinese foreign policy that may impact the lives of billions of people, inside and outside China.
            Fourth, this article only sees positive aspects, without noticing several negative aspects that can be generated by China. South Asia and Southeast Asia in general assume that China has territorial ambitions. Some African countries also began to doubt the Chinese government's agenda.

I noted several disputes concerning China including: (1) disputes in the South China Sea. China has a conflict with almost all countries of Southeast Asia that are related to claims over the Spratly and Paracel Islands. While the negotiations have not reached common ground, China has put its military in the region. (2) The territorial conflict between China and India plus Southeast Asian countries. The conflict was triggered when China government released a map which includes Vietnam, the Philippines, and India. (3) China-Japan dispute. In 2010, Chinese fishing vessels entered Japanese waters. When Japan arrested some of the fisherman, China’s reaction threatened to embargo Japan. (4) Conflict with Myanmar. The conflict arose when the leader of Myanmar's military junta tried to break away from dependence on China. (5) Potential conflicts with some African countries. When China approached Africa, all African countries welcomed China. Now, many Africans begin to complain. The projects were built by Chinese companies, supervised by a Chinese company, assessed by a Chinese company, and audited by a Chinese company without benefit to any African countries.
            With various political developments that occurred, some developing countries began to turn to the west, including the United States. Western countries could be a force to counterbalance China's dominance, while maintaining the stability of the region. Lastly, I agree with the conclusion of the authors that the United States (U.S.) must continue to assert its own ideals and strategic priorities and continue to work closely with other like-minded nations. This initiative has been pursued by several Southeast Asian countries who invited the United States to establish military bases on its territory. Although in the future this strategy could be a problem, this option is considered appropriate for this moment.

[1] For detail explanation, see Paul Krugman’s article:
[2] Blumentghal, D (2011) “Riding a tiger: China’s resurging foreign policy aggression.” Foreign Policy, April 15, at
[3] Huntington, S (1996) The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York, Simon & Schuster.
[4] Zhang, Wanfa (2012) Has Beijing Started to bare Its Teeth? China’s Tapping of Soft Power Revisited. In Asia Perspective 36, 615-639
[5] Nye, Joseph (2005) “The Rise of China’s Soft Power.” Wall Street Journal, Dec 29
[6] Lee, john (2010) “The End of Smile Diplomacy?” National Interest, September 23, at

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