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The dimensions of Chinese influence


By the Editorial Board of East Asia Forum

• One of the biggest questions in current global affairs is how a rising China shapes the world beyond its borders. The scale of China’s rise has had huge impact on the world. Size brings its own natural and inevitable influence: its economic dimension transforms nations from being ‘price-takers’ to being ‘price-makers’ in the international economy and its political dimension carries heft through political and military power.

But what kind of influence will China seek, how will it seek it, and to what ends as it gets used to its new found power?

These questions were central to the deliberations of the 19th Party Congress and its attempt to define a new and confident role for China in the international community. While the 19th Party Congress received notice most for its elevation of President Xi Jinping in the pantheon of China’s governing Communist Party, what Xi’s report to the Congress said about the principles on which China’s approach to world affairs would be based has been less well studied.

Core among those principles are respect for the multilateral system, a shared community and non-interference in sovereign affairs. All three overarching principles promise felicitous international engagement and cooperation with a newly rich and powerful China. Whether in responding to current threats to the international trade and economic system or dealing with the security and territorial issues that confront all parties in Northeast Asia or the South China Sea, these principles are worthy reference points.


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In volume 9.4 of the East Asia Forum Quarterly, we examine China’s influence from these several perspectives. In global affairs, we address China’s engagement with the liberal international order and multilateral institutions (Andrew Nathan; Zhong Feiteng). We discuss China’s efforts to establish itself as the dominant power in East Asia (Richard McGregor), the importance of the Belt and Road Initiative in expanding Chinese influence (Evelyn Goh and James Reilly), the role of state owned enterprises in overseas markets (Brodsgaard), regional anxieties about China’s influence (Chitrapu Uday Bhaskar) and Southeast Asian responses to China’s new power (Renato Cruz De Castro). Chinese influence in Australia is a frontline issue, including in politics (Allan Gyngell; Peter Drysdale and John Denton), on university campuses (Brian Schmidt), in the Chinese media (Sun Wanning) and in the Chinese-Australian community (Ien Ang). The Asian Review features in this EAFQ also examine grand strategy in continental Asia (Calder), Southeast Asian political trends (Slater), Duterte and China (Cruz de Castro) and Asian global trade strategy (Chatib Basri).


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