Understanding the transformation in Chinese foreign policy: A historical evaluation from 1949 to 2019

Demir E.

Cappadocia Journal of Area Studies (CJAS), Cappadocia University, vol.1, no.1, pp.6-24, 2019 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)


This study examines how China’s changing status since its establishment influences its relations with the outside world. Here, it is argued that in order to make a claim on whether China’s changing status transforms the country into a status quo or a revisionist power, first of all, a distinction needs to be made between pre- and post-reform eras. While in the Maoist era China had a commitment to world revolution and hence, supported armed insurgencies throughout the world, it later abandoned this revolutionary rhetoric and the associated policies and replaced them with a policy of economic reform, opening up and integrating with the world economy. In the post-Mao period, up until Xi Jinping took the helm, China’s sole grand strategy was to reform its economic model and to build a state capitalist political economic system while positioning itself at the centre of global production networks. Under Xi, however, the country launched a new grand strategy, namely the Chinese Dream, seeking to transform its strengths into a more assertive foreign policy that would position it at the centre of global affairs. Indeed, today’s China, which replaced the goal of global revolution with the goal of being the champion of neoliberal globalization, lies at the heart of the capitalist system.