China’s Basic Foreign Policy Objectives

  • Leo Yueh-Yun Liu


Throughout its history, China has regarded itself as the centre of the world. The term ‘Chung-kuo’ (China) itself stands for ‘Middle Kingdom’ or ‘Central Kingdom’, which conveys ‘the sense of a large universe revolving around a primary, directing force’ represented by China.1 Proud of their brilliant culture and historical heritage, the Chinese have regarded their homeland as ‘the centre of the civilised world’. The large territory, population, common language, and Confucian political, ethical, and social values they share, reinforce their ‘great power images’. With the possible exception of India and Japan, no country in Asia could be compared with China, either politically, militarily or culturally. The military as well as cultural superiority and prosperity of the Han (206 b.c. – a.d. 189), T’ang (a.d. 618–905), Ming (a.d. 1368–643), and early Ching (a.d. 1644–700) dynasties further reinforced the Chinese ‘Middle Kingdom’ assumption and China’s presumed influence in Asia. Consequently, China had established around itself a system of tributary states which were expected to be submissive and to pay at least some tribute to China. At any sign of hostility on their part, China was quite prepared to use force to cope with them.


National Interest Intermediate Zone Socialist Country World Politics Tributary State 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Robert A. Scalapino, ‘The Cultural Revolution and Chinese Foreign Policy’, Current Scene: Developments in Mainland China, VI, no. 13 (1 Aug 1968) 2.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For similar models, see Norton Ginsburg, ‘On the Chinese Perception of a World Order’, China in Crisis, 2, ed. Tang Tsou ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968 ) 73–91.Google Scholar
  3. John K. Fairbank, ‘China’s World Order’, Encounter, 27 (Dec 1966) 14–15. See also ‘The Geography of Mainland China: A Concise Sketch’, Current Scene, VII, no. 17 (1 Sept 1969 ) 1–21.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    Sun Yat-sen, San Min Chu I (Three People’s Principles) ( Taipei, Taiwan: Cheng Chung, 1954 ) p. 6.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    Chiang Kai-shek, China’s Destiny and Chinese Economic Theory (New York: Roy Publication, 1947) pp. 34, 79.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    Mao Tse-tung, ‘The Chinese Revolution and the Chinese Communist Party’, 15 Dec 1939 version, Current Background, no. 135 (10 Nov 1951), cit. A. Doak Barnett, Communist China and Asia: A Challenge to American Policy ( New York: Random House, 1960 ) p. 79.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Cit. Robert S. Elegant, The Centre of the World: Communism and the Mind of China (London: Methuen, 1963) p. x.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    Edgar Snow, Red Star over China, rev. ed. (New York: Garden City Publishing Co., 1939 ) pp. 88–9.Google Scholar
  9. 17.
    C. P. Fitzgerald, The Chinese View of Their Place in the World ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1964 ) pp. 18–19.Google Scholar
  10. 22.
    Mao Tse-tung, Selected Works, VI (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1963 ) 97–101.Google Scholar
  11. 24.
    Mao Tse-tung, On People’s Democratic Dictatorship, July 1949 ( Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1952 ) p. 10.Google Scholar
  12. 25.
    Source Material: Several Important Problems concerning the Current International Situation’, no. 17 (25 Apr 1961), Bulletin of Activities or Kungtso T’ung-hsu (Work Correspondances), in The Politics of the Chinese Red Army, ed. J. Chester Cheng ( Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University, 1966 ) p. 481.Google Scholar
  13. 31.
    Chinese Communist Affairs Bi-Monthly 2, no. 2 (Apr 1965) 16. For similar views expressed by the Communist Chinese, see also ‘Source Material: Several Important Problems Concerning the Current International Situation’, pp. 480–7. See also Tung Chi-ping and Humphrey Evans, The Thought Revolution (New York: Coward-McCann, 1966) p. 223.Google Scholar
  14. 33.
    Mao Tse-tung, ‘Problems of War and Strategy’, 6 Nov 1938, Selected Military Writings (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1963) pp. 242, 269.Google Scholar
  15. 36.
    Mao Tse-tung, ‘Report of An Investigation into the Peasant Movement in Hunan’, Selected Works, 1 (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1955), 27. See also his Selected Works, II ( Peking: People’s Press, 1961 ) 600.Google Scholar
  16. 41.
    Walter B. Wentz, Nuclear Proliferation ( Washington: Public Affairs Press, 1968 ) p. 50.Google Scholar
  17. 42.
    For details, see Morton H. Halperin and Dwight H. Perkins, Communist China and Arms Control (Cambridge, Mass.: Frederick A. Praeger for Harvard University, 1965) pp. 17ff.Google Scholar
  18. 45.
    Franz H. Michael and George E. Taylor, The Far East in the Modern World (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1964 ).Google Scholar
  19. Richard L. Walker, The Continuing Struggles: Communist China and the Free World ( New York: Athene, 1958 ).Google Scholar
  20. 46.
    Richard Harris, ‘China and the World’, International Affairs (London) 35 no. 2 (Apr 1959) 162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 47.
    Abraham M. Halpern, ‘China in the Postwar World’, China Quarterly no. 21 (Jan-Mar 1965) 43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 48.
    Allen S. Whiting, ‘Foreign Policy of Communist China’, in Foreign Policy in World Politics, ed. Roy C. Macridis ( Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1967 ) p. 296.Google Scholar
  23. 49.
    Robert A. Scalapino, ‘The Foreign Policy of the People’s Republic of China,’ in Foreign Policies in A World of Change ed. Joseph E. Black and Kenneth W. Thompson (New York: Harper & Sons, 1963) pp. 549–90; The Cultural Revolution and Chinese Foreign Policy’, Current Scene VI, no. 13 (1 Aug 1968) 1–15; Harold C. Hinton, Communist China in World Politics; A. Doak Barnett, Communist China and Asia.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leo Yueh-Yun Liu
    • 1
  1. 1.Brandon UniversityCanada

Personalised recommendations