Domestic Politics and China’s Assertive Foreign Policy: Why China’s Rise May Not Be Peaceful
The debate centered on China’s ascent in the global political arena and whether such a rise will be peaceful or violent has generated lively debate amongst international relations theorists. However, whilst most analysis on this subject is deeply entrenched in the realist/liberal/constructivist prism of traditional international relations theory, little analysis is given to China’s domestic politics and its implications for China’s rise, especially in the context of China’s increased assertiveness. This chapter provides an alternative perspective to this debate by exploring the role of China’s domestic politics and its implications on the country’s dramatic rise. This chapter further argues that the source of China’s new assertiveness is in part due to a number of dysfunctional dynamics typifying China’s domestic politics, namely elite competition, rising nationalism, and leaders’ preferences. With China now one of the world’s leading powers, the characteristics of its domestic politics matter more than ever, and along with a number of international factors, this chapter suggests that both of these combine to show that China’s peaceful ascent may be heavily constrained.