Beyond win–win: rethinking China's international relationships in an era of economic uncertainty



    1. Professor of Foreign Affairs and holds the Miller Center's C. K. Yen Chair at the University of Virginia.
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    • For comments on earlier drafts I would like to thank Herman Schwartz and audiences at Academia Sinica, Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences, US Pacific Command Headquarters and Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, as well as anonymous reviewers, though the views expressed are my own.


China is the least disadvantaged major economy in the current era of global economic uncertainty. Thus it is becoming the focus of attention of its neighbours and is achieving a prominence in the world political economy unparalleled in its modern history. To a great extent, China's success is the result of ‘good neighbour diplomacy’ such as ‘win–win’ and the policies of reform and openness of the past thirty years. However, despite continuity in policy, China's ‘peaceful leap forward’ since 2008 has changed the context of its external relationships. The increasing asymmetries between China and its neighbours, as well as decreasing asymmetry with the United States, require an adjustment of win–win values beyond mutual benefit to credible reassurance. As China's neighbours become more dependent, they also become more anxious concerning their interests. Meanwhile, China's relative gain on the US requires a different kind of confidence-building diplomacy.