Contemplating Chinese Foreign Policy: Approaches to the Use of Historical Analysis


  • The authors would like to thank Arif Dirlik, two anonymous reviewers, and the contributors to this special issue for their useful feedback. They would also like to thank the Association of Chinese Political Science, King's China Institute, the Mr. & Mrs. S.H. Wong Foundation, and Professors Keith Hoggart and Yao Xinzhong for their support of the 2011 Conference on “100 Years after the 1911 Chinese Revolution” from which the papers in this special issue originated.


Many have contemplated Chinese foreign policy and its future direction, but few have queried how Chinese history might illuminate both. This is unfortunate since researchers have shown that history can influence foreign policy agendas, discourses, and national goals. Moreover, it provides an invaluable tool for comparative analysis. The purpose of this introduction is to provide historical background to the articles comprising this special issue, whose contributors employ historical analysis, with the period preceding and following the Xinhai Revolution as a basis, to illuminate contemporary Chinese foreign policy – e.g., China's interest in remaking the international order and its security norms – or to suggest differences between past and present – for example, in regards to China's Asia–Pacific posture. This introduction also hopes to stimulate further work on Chinese history and foreign policy by highlighting similarities and differences between past and present with respect to, inter alia, pressures against China's territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence, the penetration of foreign actors and ideas into China, and domestic factors limiting China's efforts to filter external influences and to respond to them.


Speculating on the future direction of Chinese foreign policy has become a cottage industry in academia.1 Above all, this is an outcome of the rising political, military and economic power of the People's Republic of China (PRC).2 Other drivers have been Beijing's rising assertiveness in regards to maritime issues, such as the South China Sea, international economic structures, and the pursuit of allies, China's expanding investments overseas, and changes in the Chinese Communist Party's central decision-making bodies coupled with the increasing influence of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) on Chinese foreign policy decisions and behaviors.3 To make their forecasts, commentators and researchers have employed a variety of analytical frameworks that emphasize all or some of the following variables: Chinese leaders, bureaucracies/special interest groups, such as the PLA, nationalism, international institutions, and public opinion.4 What is curiously missing from the mix is an attempt to use Chinese history to contemplate the future direction of Chinese foreign policy.

This is odd given that it used to be commonplace to analyze Chinese foreign policy through historical lenses.5 For instance, the eminent historian John Fairbank wrote that Chinese history had disposed Chinese leaders to focus on “inner Asia,” to shun “maritime” activities and overseas adventurism, and to assume airs of external superiority that restrained China's adaptability.6 John Cranmer-Byng argued Chinese elites had a persistent belief in China having a universally valid, morally virtuous, and superior system of values. Moreover, these beliefs inclined China to utopianism, values-based diplomacy and a shallow embrace of the Western order.7 Although recent works linking Chinese history and foreign policy are scarcer, there are still a few noteworthy ones. For instance, Alastair Iain Johnston finds the roots of modern Chinese strategic culture in ancient strategic thinking on the nature of international relations and conflict.8 Christopher A. Ford argues China's belief in its superiority and the universality of its values cause it to reject sovereign equality and favor hierarchy.9 A recent special issue of Journal of Chinese Political Science points to the ongoing salience of Chinese tradition, though its contributors do not offer any consensus about its connection to Chinese foreign policy.10

While intriguing, arguments tying China's foreign policy to its history typically have many limitations. They often do not do justice to the diversity of Chinese culture, experience, and tradition, seeing “one” culture, “one” experience, or “one” tradition. They further neglect that Chinese history is a product, in part, of changeable material factors, such as geography, the distribution of capabilities, and technology levels. Beyond this, they have trouble explaining how variation in Chinese foreign policy behaviors can flow from “constants” like culture, experience, and tradition.11 These shortcomings do not mean we should reject the historical analysis of foreign policy. Rather, we should think about it in a more sophisticated way.

First, it is not advisable to view history as influencing foreign policy behavior in a purely deterministic fashion. It may be more fruitful, as several contributors herein do, to view history as coloring, in a continuing, but evolving way, various aspects of foreign policy, such as the policy agenda and context, interstate dialogues, debates among political elites, “policy lessons,” or the futures that countries try to achieve.12 Second, it should be recognized that historical analysis can provide us with a foundation for undertaking comparative analysis, especially where we find similar circumstances associated with different behaviors, or similar behaviors associated with different circumstances. To illustrate, a researcher might probe the forces leading China to act assertively with respect to international issues (e.g., territorial controversies) whereas previously passivity was the norm. Third, one needs to specify the historical period whose relevance he/she wishes to explore. One should state, for instance, that they are studying the link between China's engagement with international institutions in the 1880s and international human rights law today or between China's Self-Strengthening Movement and military modernization today rather than the link between some amorphous “Chinese history” and the present.

This special issue concentrates on the Xinhai Revolution (the “Revolution”), the theme of an Association of Chinese Political Studies–King's China Institute international conference held in 2011.13 The Revolution's 100th anniversary spurred various works assessing what the Revolution meant, what it achieved and how it compared against China's 1949 and other revolutions, and the factors limiting its results.14 Yet, few have pondered its relevance for contemporary Chinese domestic or foreign policies or how circumstances today might parallel those of 100 years or so ago.15 Exploring China now versus the Revolutionary period might seem nonsensical. After all, China is now the world's second largest economy, boasts a powerful military, and is a key player in every major international institution. In contrast, the China of the late 19th and early 20th centuries was a marginal economy, militarily weak, and a taker of alien ideologies. Nevertheless, like the China of 1911, today's China grapples with huge internal problems, endures challenges from foreign ideologies, confronts challenges to its territorial integrity and sovereignty, faces an ongoing expansion of foreign policy players and economic linkages, and has an intensely nationalistic populace.

The contributors to this special issue do not use Chinese history in a uniform way, but make clear that history can be used in different ways to think about Chinese foreign policy. To illustrate, the pieces by Chris Connolly and Jörn-Carsten Gottwald and by Chris Ogden demonstrate how the depredations and failings of the Xinhai Interregnum (internal and external) have molded, in various ways, China's contemporary foreign policy agenda, objectives, and discourse, leading Beijing to emphasize centralized control, to seek prestige and recognition, to pursue territorial unification, to champion an international order geared to China's outlook and preferences, and to embrace multilateralism in a utilitarian and shallow way. Looking at separate cases – China's participation in global climate change negotiations and China's stance towards East Asia – Catherine Jones and Yves-Heng Lim come to the separate but shared conclusion that China's rising power means China no longer has to accept the roles (Jones) and policies (Lim) that circumstances forced it to accept during the Xinhai Interregnum. Here, history is less a cause or source of China's contemporary foreign policy behaviors than a comparative tool that analysts can use to isolate the factors that have led to differences in China's foreign policy behaviors.

This piece consists of eight sections whose primary purpose is to provide readers with background on the pre- and post-1911 periods (the “Xinhai Interregnum”) so they can better appreciate the various articles in this special issue. It does not aim to offer its own unique interpretation of the links (or lack thereof) between the Xinhai Interregnum and contemporary Chinese foreign policy, but rather to set the stage. The next section gives a brief introduction to the 1911 Revolution and its antecedents. The third examines pressures against China's territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence. The fourth looks at the penetration of foreign actors and ideas into China. The fifth surveys China's efforts to deal with its external challenges. The sixth contemplates domestic factors limiting China's efforts to filter external influences and to respond to them. At the end of each of the preceding sections, we highlight commonalities and differences between the past and the present in order to stimulate historically informed thinking about contemporary Chinese foreign policy. The seventh summarizes this collection's articles, highlighting the insights they derive from historical analysis. The final section offers highlights, discusses the ramifications of this study, and offers some concluding remarks.

The 1911 Revolution in Brief

It is no easy task to date the beginning of the revolution that “marked the end of the Qing Dynasty and … the end of all imperial dynasties in China.”16 Some point to the First Opium War (1839–1842), others the Taiping rebellion, and yet others the 1895 War with Japan. It is easier to enumerate the individual strains that undermined the autonomy, capabilities, and legitimacy of the Qing. These pressures constrained the ability of the Qing to make policy decisions, drained the treasury while hindering the Qing's ability to use force externally, and greatly diminished the standing of the (Manchu) Qing among the Chinese (Han) populace.17 Ultimately, the combination of internal and external pressures became too great, destroying the dynasty.

A tremendous number of internal political, economic, and social stresses weighed heavily on the Qing in the 19th and early 20th centuries. One problem was excess population. Excess population fueled famine, un- and under-employment, migration, crime, and anti-state activities. A second was rebellion (among them, the Lotus, Hui, Nian, Taiping, and Boxer Rebellions). A third was corruption. This ranged from local magistrates pocketing a share of local tax moneys to cases where court favorites amassed loot equivalent to hundreds of millions of silver taels. A fourth was poor infrastructure, which hindered development, exacerbated famine problems, and so on. A fifth was the rise of sub-national armies, especially in the face of the existential challenge to the state from the Taiping Rebellion.18

External pressures, some existential, were nothing new for Chinese dynasties. Yet they rarely challenged China's traditional systems. The Western assault that began in the 19th century, however, represented a new kind and level of pressure that rejected China's “universalist pretensions.”19 Through repeated victories, the Western powers and Japan forced China to accept a slew of “unequal” treaties with onerous terms.20 These assaults fueled the demise of the state by forcing it to accept or embrace military and institutional reforms (e.g., a new national army and provincial assemblies) that undermined its autonomy.21 Second, they depleted the dynasty's financial assets as these were exhausted to pay for fighting, preparations for conflict, and huge reparations. Third, they damaged the regime's coercive resources, not only through military defeats, but also by diverting resources that might otherwise have been directed internally. Fourth, they diminished the prestige and reputation of the regime. Fifth, successful assaults emboldened or enabled other foreign powers to impose new demands on China.22

The proximate cause of the Revolution was the rebellion of troops in Wuhan on 10 October after authorities moved against revolutionaries in the army. As result of grievances relating to the center's appropriation of regional powers, mortgaging of China's railways, rising tax burdens, economic crises, and Manchu dominance, the revolt spread rapidly, with numerous generals abandoning the dynasty and numerous provinces declaring independence. By December, revolutionaries had founded the Republic of China (ROC) with Emperor Puyi abdicating 6 months later.23 The republic that arose out of the ashes of the Revolution had a conservative tint because of the prominence of the gentry, provincial strongmen, and military leaders, which made it unable to meet the needs of the bourgeoisie, workers, and peasantry. Moreover, this conservatism, political and policy differences within the revolutionary coalition, and other causes made it impossible to build a stable center, and to avoid authoritarian, warlord governments. Yet, these factors made it impossible to revive imperial China, too.24

The internal and external setting in the period leading up to the Xinhai Interregnum seems substantially different from today. As for the internal, China is not beset by huge internal rebellions and does not face challenges from subnational armies. As for the external, China's capabilities seem more than adequate to meet external challenges, which, in any event, are qualitatively different from those of a hundred years ago. For example, no foreign countries are seeking to carve out spheres of influence and there are no external actors raising existential challenges to China's political system. Yet, the demands posed by China's large population for progress on various issues (e.g., corruption and pollution) and domestic unrest in areas such as Xinjiang continue to affect the goals and tenor of China's foreign policy-making.25 As before, internal issues make Beijing vulnerable to external pressures. Finally, in realms such as trade and investment policy, religious rights, and the environment, external actors continue to demand changes from China that would transform, albeit in varying degrees, a variety of political, economic, and social roles, institutions, and values.26 In sum, while the present context does not mirror the past, there are various parallels, which suggest interesting avenues of investigation.

China's Territorial Integrity, Sovereignty, and National Independence at Risk

The Xinhai Interregnum, encompassed within the longer “Century of National Humiliation,” was an abysmal period as far as China's territorial integrity, sovereignty, and national independence was concerned. It was not the first time China conceded rights to “aliens” nor was it the time when China conceded the largest amount of territory.27 In the aggregate, however, the period represented one where China lost much land to others, surrendered substantial political, economic, and cultural rights, and watched its foreign policy freedoms disappear. This produced a quest, which persists to this day, for central control and territorial restoration, as Ogden writes in his contribution to this special issue.

China's territorial integrity during the Xinhai Interregnum was problematic to say the least. First, foreign countries had seized Chinese territory, such as Hong Kong and Kowloon, Taiwan, and the Liaodong peninsula. Second, imperial powers had taken control of Chinese cities, such as Dalian, Port Arthur (Lushun), and Qingdao. Third, internal and external forces conspired, before and after 1911, to push and pull ethnic areas (Manchu, Mongol, Muslim, and Tibetan) out of China's orbit. This was a function of dynamics transpiring within ethnic borderlands as well as the efforts of the British, Russians, and Japanese to wrest areas away to satiate their parochial interests. Despite their weaknesses, Chinese governments of all stripes strove through emigration, force, the construction of government institutions, the selective rejection of treaties, and continuing opposition to independence of its peripheries to preserve the territorial configuration of the state. Importantly, competition among countries like Japan, Russia, and the UK facilitated Chinese efforts to retain control over its territory.28

Foreign meddling in China's peripheries not only threatened China's territorial integrity, but also hamstrung its ability to exercise sovereignty over ethnic groups. For instance, the ROC had to give pro forma autonomy and significant linguistic and cultural rights to minority groups to blunt the influence of foreign powers.29 Aside from this constraint on China's sovereignty, the institution of extraterritoriality crippled China's ability to apply local law to foreigners while provisions in various treaties decreed how China should punish criminals, what examination systems it could use, and what rights it should grant to foreign communities. Constraints on China's economic sovereignty were manifest in the Most-Favored Nation (MFN) provision that China had to accept after 1842: restrictions on China's customs autonomy and setting of internal tariffs, and foreign control of Chinese mines and railways.30 Finally, foreigners diminished China's cultural sovereignty by forcing it to expand the places where missionaries could operate and the types of activities in which such individuals could engage.31

“National independence” may be defined as the ability of a country to conduct foreign policy pursuant to its preferences. In the decades preceding the Qing's demise, China lost the ability to conduct foreign policy with its tributaries according to its preferences whether these related to conventional tributary state precepts or Western diplomatic praxis. This was witnessed in France and Japan's demolition of China's tributary relationships with, respectively, Vietnam and the Ryukyu Islands and Korea.32 Furthermore, the Xinhai Interregnum saw China lose its ability to conduct diplomacy according to tributary concepts. To illustrate, it had to accept resident foreign ambassadors in its capital, to establish permanent delegations abroad, and to change the content of its diplomatic language.33 Worse, China's weakness meant it had scant ability to pursue an independent foreign policy. Foreign countries forced Chinese to exclude others from their spheres of influence, banned China from importing weapons, and decided the disposition of Chinese territories seized from Germany after the end of World War I.34

Contrasting China now versus 100 years ago in regards to issues of territorial integrity, sovereignty, and national independence, we find commonalities as well as differences. Xinhai Interregnum revolutionaries were consumed with the idea of purging China of foreign domination and regaining full control over the country's borders and political, economic, and social life. For decades after 1911, Chinese statecraft was single-mindedly focused on delineating and protecting the borders of the country and to recovering its lost sovereignty and national independence.35 Today, boundary issues remain omnipresent and Chinese leaders are determined to make their country richer and stronger to avoid a repetition of past sufferings.36 In addition, China's sovereign rights remain highly contested with countries, businesses, and activists challenging China about its currency policies and fulfillment of its World Trade Organization obligations, its environmental policies, and its human rights policies.37 Finally, like 100 years before, we see that China's flexibility is the greatest when other countries are distracted or not united against it.38 In the final analysis, then, history not only weighs on the present in regards to the contemporary policy agenda, but the commonalities between the present and past give the “lessons of the past” added salience and increase sensitivity about contemporary pressures relating to territorial integrity, sovereignty, and national independence.

The Penetration of the Foreign

The outside world weighed heavily on China during the Xinhai Interregnum. In fact, according to one prominent historian, “nothing mattered more” than the international world. Foreign relations were “all penetrating, all permeating, all prevailing.”39 Among other things, external forces impacted China in the form of foreign governments, foreign actors, such as businesspeople, intellectuals, and missionaries, and systemic forces and external ideas relating to every “ism,” such as liberalism, capitalism, and communism.40 This section reviews the diverse ways in which foreign players, external forces, and foreign ideas impinged upon China's internal and external realms. It concludes with some thoughts about parallels between then and now.

The absolute number of foreigners in China during the Xinhai Interregnum was never large, even in China's treaty ports. However, the number of foreigners increased steadily as foreign rights and interests increased. Moreover, China periodically found it useful to invite foreigners to participate in various aspects of the country's life. These foreign actors counseled China in areas such as agriculture and science, guided political tactics, strategies, and parties (including the Guomindang and Chinese Communist Party), played a role in diplomacy, trade, as well as military training, organization, and weapons production, and were integral in the design of China's top educational institutions. They also affected the structure and technology of China's infrastructure. Aside from this, they influenced the management businesses and the building of China's state industrial sector.41

Less welcome were foreign missionaries and religious organizations that the Chinese elite viewed as endangering Confucianism and traditional Chinese values, challenging government authority, championing Western political thinking, promoting instability (e.g., the Taiping Rebellion and other revolutions having some association with Christianity), and supporting Western imperialism in China. On the positive side, these actors contributed to China's educational, medical, and social welfare systems. On the negative side, in order to win converts, they resorted to questionable tactics, like bribes and granting sanctuary from officials to Chinese citizens, which, not surprisingly, angered the gentry. On top of this, missionaries and their adherents destroyed ancestral tablets, traditional temples, and took over (on occasion sacred) land, which they sometimes used to build churches.42

Beyond the impact of foreign players, international forces, some systemic, weighed upon China. One devastating one was the opium trade, which created severe social problems for China and drained the country of silver, which subsequently increased peasant tax burdens and political instability.43 A second was European power politics coupled with imperialist competition in Northeast Asia. This affected the intensity of foreign pressure on China. For instance, the more the Western imperial powers were consumed battling one another on the European continent, the less free they were to unleash their claws on China. This, in turn, influenced China's foreign policy agenda and its ability to concentrate on internal problems.44 A third was global markets. Global markets inflicted punitive competition on many areas in China. As well, global economic forces fed, in part, the growth of a Chinese bourgeoisie. To be fair, it should be noted that external factors also helped Chinese and/or the state. For instance, global markets empowered areas in China that had desired goods and facilitated the marketing and production of Chinese goods by bringing them up to international production and quality standards.45 Moreover, external forces gave Republican China opportunities to innovate and consolidate.46

Decades before 1911, foreign politico-economic ideas began to percolate deeply into China due to: (i) increasing inflows of foreign thought; (ii) the journeys abroad of Chinese students, delegations, and migrants; and (iii) the perceived success of foreign models (e.g., Japanese constitutionalism). These ideas spoke to the ordering concepts of the state (i.e., the nation), core political principles, political participation, institutional checks and balances, and election procedures. Moreover, grand debates about whether China needed “rule by law” (法治) or “rule by men” (人治) were infused by foreign ideas. Beyond these more political foreign ideas, the foreign economic doctrines of capitalism and economic liberalism, which admittedly had political prescriptions and proscriptions, were a real part of politico-economic debates inside China before and after 1911.47

Nationalism was yet another import (of sorts) pervasive in the political discourse of the late Qing through the Revolution and beyond. Certainly, Chinese did not need much prodding to come to the conclusion that their “alien” masters, the Qing, were failing to defend Chinese interests.48 Neither did they need much urging to unite around the notion of pushing out the aliens that threatened the existence and autonomy of their nation. Even so, foreign ideas impacted Chinese nationalism. They shaped Chinese ideas about the nation, national essence, national unity, nationalism, and economic nationalism. They molded the end goal of Chinese revolutionaries, the creation of a “European-style nation-state,” understood to be a state with a central administration, professional military, and centralized finances. And they guided thinking about the configuration of the international system and nation-states within it.49

The Xinhai Interregnum witnessed rapidly increasing and expanding interaction with foreign actors, dynamics, and policies in multiple realms. While often the outside world forced players, forces, and ideas upon China, some internal actors willingly embraced the external to serve their own political or economic purposes while others remained defiant in the face of them.50 It is not a stretch to say this describes various facets of contemporary China. In areas such as agricultural and environmental policy, education, and investment and trade, today's China works closely with a number of external actors ranging from foreign government officials to academics to consultants and sends large numbers of delegations and students abroad. As well, China continues to debate, often grudgingly, which foreign ideas about politics, economics/development, and the environment remain relevant and suitable to China's national conditions. On the other hand, unlike the past, China has gone from being a taker to a country whose ideas (e.g., the “China Model”), actors (e.g., companies), and economic weight influence others.51 Moreover, China is less receptive and/or susceptible to external players, forces, and ideas, partly because of its successes and internal and external strengths. So, here too, we see both similarities and differences that suggest areas where analysts might further delve into the link between history and Chinese foreign policy.

China's Reaction to External Challenges

Most know the Qing dynasty for its incompetence in dealing with China's external challenges. Yet between the mid-17th and mid-19th centuries, it enhanced China's tributary system by creating institutions such as the Lifan Yuan (理藩院), strengthened the center's hold over the empire through the promotion of Chinese culture, special agricultural policies, and the use of force, countered Dutch and Portuguese trade demands, handled Japanese and other challenges to Taiwan, and expanded the empire's non-tributary trade relations with Europe, Central Asia, and other regions.52 Nonetheless, after the 1830s, it proved increasingly incapable of fashioning adequate responses to external challenges. Still, there were some noteworthy attempts: the Self-Strengthening Movement, the Tonzhi Restoration (1862–1874), the 100 Days Reform (1898), the post-Boxer Protocol (1901) reforms, and the 1919 May 4th Movement.53

The rising intensity and expansion of Western challenges, repeated Qing military defeats in the 1850s and 1860, and the onerous terms of the Treaties of Tianjin (1858) and Beijing (1860) made intellectuals, regime power brokers, and even the conservative Qing Court well aware that it needed to undertake reform. However, reforms under this “Self-Strengthening Movement,” which started in 1861 or so and ended in 1894, were limited in scope and degree. Indeed, reformers gave attention almost exclusively to purchasing Western armaments and learning from the West how to build weapons, ships, and the related industrial base. Later, however, reformers moved to examining how they could bolster China's development through exploiting Western ideas relating to agriculture, mining, and shipping. Whatever the case, reforms were not to touch upon key Chinese institutions or values.54

Nested within the Self-Strengthening Period was the Tongzhi Restoration, a reform initiative pushed by top elites, such as Prince Gong, Zeng Guofan, and Li Hongzhang. They sought to regain control over the country in the wake of the devastating Taiping Rebellion and to counter foreign power and influence. By no stretch did they reject dynastic rule or conventional Confucian precepts. Indeed, in the spirit of the Self-Strengthening Movement, they wanted to retain the essence of China. Nevertheless, they were willing to go beyond military modernization and limited industrialization to explore Western knowledge, educational practices, and institutions. In this vein, they translated and disseminated foreign legal, international relations, and scientific and technical works, received and dispatched delegations, and created China's first Western-style foreign ministry called the Zongli Yamen.55

In 1898, Emperor Guangxu embarked on the ambitious 100 Days Reform as a result of factors such as China's humiliating loss to Japan in 1895. He decreed dramatic educational reforms, a program of industrial development, and major administrative changes to the government and military, though there was no push except among the most radical to abandon core institutions and values.56 After the debacle of the Boxer Rebellion, though, even Court conservatives began to embrace reforms. These pertained to a constitution, government and military administration and finance, supervisory posts and structures (e.g., a cabinet), legislative bodies, such as national assembly, and education (particularly the civil-service examination system). Many reforms were half-hearted, incomplete, or flawed, which catalyzed further disenchantment. In other cases, reforms destabilized the regime by making it easier for revolutionaries to mobilize, criticize China's rulers, and nurture leaders. In yet other cases, reforms fueled a backlash because they ended elite privileges and increased tax burdens.57

A final noteworthy effort to deal with the outside world was the 1919 May 4th movement, which flowed from popular revulsion about the secret agreements European powers had made with Japan, without Chinese permission, to give it the Shandong territories previously controlled by the Germans. The weakness of China that this symbolized and the association of Western “democratic” powers with this hated arrangement did not result in specific policies per se. However, in combination, they led to a wholesale rejection of traditional Confucian values, the discrediting of Western democratic models, and the acceptance of more radical doctrines like anarchism and Communism. The embrace of Communism, in turn, led groups within China, such as the Chinese Communist Party, not only to work with the Soviet Union, but also to support the cause of global revolution.58

Looking at domestic reforms in China versus 100 years ago we see similarities and differences. For example, as before, today's reforms cover a broad range – e.g., educational reform, administrative changes (e.g., in the medical and pensions systems), and a revamping of China's economic development model.59 Still, they lack the transformative feel and urgency of the Tongzhi Restoration, 100 Days Reform, or post-Boxer Rebellion reforms. Moreover, there seems to be little or no link between external factors – i.e., China's external weakness – and many contemporary reform initiatives. Finally, in contrast to various past periods, China seems willing to embrace Western ideas, behaviors, and technologies in multiple realms, not just that of military armaments. On the other hand, as shown by Hu Jintao's administration (it is too early to comment upon Xi Jinping's administration), there is still a great reluctance to undertake reforms that would touch upon extant Chinese values and institutions resulting, in turn, in policy change that is incomplete or half-hearted. This flows from variables like institutional barriers, political self-interest, and fears that reforms could unleash destabilizing reforms, all quite familiar to students of the Revolution. In a nutshell, the quest to reform persists, but the interest in and capacity for reform seem more akin to the modest reform initiatives of the Xinhai Interregnum than its transformative reform initiatives.

Domestic Influences Shaping China's Response to the External Environment

Many domestic factors influenced China's response to the external environment. Some intensified its interest in dealing with external pressures. Others constrained it from responding effectively. Yet others bolstered its ability to respond. Foreign actors and countries were relevant, too, as a consequence of their impact on China's domestic situation. For instance, they provided funds, knowledge, and technology while fostering the development of groups, such as revolutionary organizations and the bourgeoisie and centers of economic dynamism, such as the treaty ports. On the other hand, they – e.g., Japan's assault from the 1880s onward – bounded the amount of domestic resources that China could throw at external challenges.60 This section focuses on the internal, examining how misperceptions, domestic problems, court conservatism, subnational actors, and interest groups affected China's reaction to the outside world.

Misperceptions plagued China's effort to grapple with the outside world. The first was an “assumption of Chinese superiority” where China was “internal, large, and high” while “non-Chinese were external, small, and low.”61 A related misperception was the belief that Western powers and Japan could be placated with trade and accommodated within the traditional system and perhaps even become awed by/acclimated to it.62 A second was the failure to appreciate that Western science and technology, armament, doctrines, and organizations, and economic systems required more than superficial adaptation, but new ideas and behaviors.63 A third was a set of misperceptions, some bordering on the bizarre, about the characteristics of Westerners, Western dependence on China, and the suitability of Western technology or ideas for China.64 Among other fallout, these misperceptions, albeit with varying levels of impact over time, led China to dismiss the challenges it was facing, to misunderstand the nature of these challenges, and to make inadequate adjustments.

Endless internal problems put huge financial demands on the center, revealed its military and political weakness, and lack of popular backing, and made it impossible to keep up with the West.65 Repeated economic crises, worsened by overpopulation, bad weather, and poor economic policy-making and administration, dampened the ability of the state to meet external and internal politico-economic challenges. Furthermore, China's traditional political structures, closely linked to locality and kinship, were a drag because they provided insufficient incentives for modernization. They made it difficult for the center to mobilize action, too. Exacerbating these drags on economic development were cultural, institutional, and economic barriers, government meddling, the lack of a banking sector, poor infrastructure, and the predominance of inefficient agricultural and handicraft sectors.66 Finally, support for the dynasty weakened among a growing range of actors from the gentry to scholars to the bourgeoisie to the military due to regime failures and inadequate (or excess) reform, which, in turn, hindered reform.67

A huge obstacle to China's effective response to the outside world was the prevalence and power of conservatives (more accurately arch-conservatives) in the Qing Court. As a result of their reactionary worldview, their desire to protect personal prerogatives and positions, and their conservative base of support, these individuals blocked or limited policy initiatives nationally and regionally, undercut reformers, or pursued policies (e.g., the invigoration of agriculture as opposed to industry and foreign trade) that reduced the resources that might have bolstered China's ability to blunt or defeat external challenges. This was seen during the Tongzhi Restoration and dramatically after the 100 Days Reform when conservatives launched a palace coup against the Guangxu Emperor, purged, executed, or exiled reformers, and renounced all the reforms the emperor had decreed.68

Sub-national actors, such as provincial armies and strongmen, affected China's interactions with foreign forces in diverse ways. For example, provincial armies served as alternative centers of loyalty, sucked moneys away from the center, nurtured anti-Manchu and criminal groups, empowered regional forces to develop their own sources of revenue, and endowed regional elites with authority.69 Regionalism further hindered the center's efforts to coordinate countrywide political and economic initiatives, adversely affected national economic integration, and created openings for reformers' foreign ideas, institutions, and powers. After the dynasty had fallen, sub-national actors continued to severely complicate the ability of the center to consolidate control. Provincial strongmen limited the ability of the center to collect revenues and rule China, to freely deal with other countries, and to harmonize China's interactions with the outside world.70

Although Qing China had numerous “interest groups,” a particularly critical one was the gentry. They made it extremely difficult for China to address the external exigencies of the time because they provided a potent base of support for conservatism rather than reform, constricted the growth of the merchant class, and stunted China's scientific and technological development.71 Other significant groups included foreign-influenced intellectuals and students, merchants, and workers. However, multiple factors (e.g., size, ease of mobilization, internal disagreements, government repression, links with the state and gentry) limited the resources such groups could contribute to the state and their impact on the degree and type of government action.72 Nevertheless, they and non-foreign-influenced elites did affect political and economic reform ideas, the spread of nationalism, and government responses to unequal treaty provisions, such as foreign concessions and special economic rights, the opium trade, and the signing of the 1919 Versailles Treaty.73

There is overlap between now and the Xinhai Interregnum in regards to the basic fact that domestic factors influence China's interactions with the outside world. More specifically, misperceptions of foreign strengths and weaknesses and intentions, internal political, economic, and social problems, and “conservatives” and interest groups, such as export interests in southern China, affect China's goals, strategies, and tactics and its ability to make policy changes to manage its interactions with foreign actors and forces. Beyond this, the top-down nature of the politico-economic system in China limits, somewhat, the incentives for individual actors to modernize. Nevertheless, there are quite a few substantive differences. Presently, subnational armies and strongmen present no real constraint on Chinese policy-making. Likewise, domestic challenges, while large, do not seem to hinder China's ability to deal with the bulk of external pressures it faces or to intensify its pressure on other foreign players.74 Given these differences, it behooves analysts to ponder how constrained Chinese foreign policy-makers will be now versus in the past in adapting to external challenges.

An Overview of the Special Issue Contributions

In “Global Power Transitions and Their Implications for the 21st Century,” Yi Feng undertakes an analysis of the prospects for war between China and the United States. Using theory and a wide-ranging historical analysis that goes beyond the Xinhai Interregnum, Feng shows we can address this question only if we consider the existence (or not) of common interests and the nature of great power preferences in addition to the balance of power between the challenger and the dominant power. Feng argues that the risk of conflict abates when hegemons and challengers share common rules of the game, ideologies, and interests. In the case of China and the United States, while the two countries are bound by deep economic interdependence, Feng cautions this is not a sufficient condition for a peaceful transition. A solidification of Sino–US political and security relations and a harmonization of preferences are needed. Again, while not focused on the Xinhai Interregnum specifically, Feng's historical analysis yields some valuable analytical tools for thinking about the future of Chinese foreign policy.

Catherine Jones (“Understanding Multiple and Competing Roles”) uses historical analysis as a tool for framing/comparative analysis rather than for identifying the sources of Chinese foreign policy or its contemporary ideology, structures, or practices. She notes that during the Xinhai Interregnum, China faced contending domestic identities while its roles within international order were dictated externally. In contrast, China today has more stable internal identities, though it still faces major challenges in reconciling its contending international identities championed by others as well as its ability to assume more roles. Ironically, China's rise has returned it to a position in the international order that resembles the position it held before the Revolution. Her article takes China's participation in various UN Climate Change conferences as a case study for probing China's multiple roles and identities.

“Beyond Balancing” by Yves-Heng Lim queries where China is headed in the post-Cold-War era in regards to East Asia. For Lim, the Xinhai Revolution marked the beginning of China's participation in the modern interstate system. His article examines to what extent the three main balance-of-power strategies – i.e., external, internal and soft balancing – explain China's contemporary security strategy in East Asia. Lim asserts that China's contemporary quest for security is, in a way, a legacy of the transition period marked by the Xinhai Revolution and that China's use of balancing strategies has some continuity with balancing experiments conducted during the Late Qing and the early years of the Republic. However, while Chinese balancing efforts proved unfruitful a century ago, the reality is that China has grown so powerful today that it seems to be reaching beyond the construction of a balance of power in East Asia. Lim's findings suggest, paradoxically, both the relevance and irrelevance of history. On the one hand, it informs China's current foreign policy quest – i.e., a return to primacy in East Asia. On the other hand, China's impressive capabilities now permit it to move beyond its historically limited foreign policy options.

In “A Normalized Dragon,” Chris Ogden investigates what has structured Chinese security practice over the last 100 years since the Revolution. He specifically queries what are the ideational principles and norms that have influenced China's international relations. In his view, the process orienting China's foreign policy has been critically informed by its international interaction, learning and experience across the last 100 years. His focus upon security identity entails the elucidation of three inter-related normative sources, which are the political (internal political developments), the physical (relations with neighboring states), and the perceptual (e.g., conceptions of the international system). Overall, he finds a consistency to how security has been conceived in China, and highlights three core norms forming this conception: centralized control, territorial restoration, and (re)becoming a great power. Odgen's piece then also sees a tight relationship between the internal and external facets of China's past and its cotemporary foreign policy concepts, agenda, and objectives.

Chris Connolly and Jörn-Carsten Gottwald (“The Long Quest for an International Order with Chinese Characteristics”) argue that China seeks to transform the international system because one of the key defining images of Chinese elites over time has been, and continues to be, China as a leading civilization setting global norms and standards. Moreover, China's engagement with the international system over the past 100 years shows that the desire for prestige and honor within the international system is one key determinant in China's behavior. China's self-esteem has meant that it has constantly sought, on the basis of its capacities at any point in time, to remake the rules to take account of China's own self-image, from attempting to challenge the legitimacy of “unequal treaties” to attempting to construct an alternative international order to its hesitant stance in contemporary global finance. Their piece thus closely links China's history to its current foreign policy with both China's foreign policy agenda and end goals shaped by its past.

“Rethinking Beijing's Geostrategic Sensibilities to Tibet and Xinjiang: Images and Interests” by Jungmin Seo and Young Chul Cho compares China's policies toward Tibet and Xinjiang from geostrategic perspectives. Seo and Cho maintain that Beijing considers Tibet as practical and symbolic issues whose secessionist movement does not pose a direct, immediate threat to China's territorial integrity or national unity. The authors then pose intriguing questions: “Why has the Tibetan issue been internationalized?” and “Why is Tibet a human rights issue rather than a secessionist issue?” In answering the questions, Seo and Cho point to the mystic image of Tibet in the minds of Westerners, anti-Chinese sentiments in the United States, and India's uneasy relationship with China. In the second part of the paper, the article discusses China's perception of Xinjiang and the implications of its secessionist movement. Xinjiang, the authors argue, is much more valuable to Beijing because of its energy resources, strategic location, and nexus to transnational terrorist movements. Xinjiang, unlike Tibet, is a core interest area for China. Seo and Cho's piece was not part of the papers presented at the conference from which the other papers in this volume were drawn and uses non-historical analytical lenses, but supplements the volume quite nicely by expanding our understanding of the Chinese security issues and practices that are the main focus of many of the articles in this special issue.


One purpose of this introduction has been to provide information on a historical period that many do not know in depth. Its main purpose, though, has been to stimulate thinking about the continuities and discontinuities between the Xinhai Interregnum and China's current internal and external environments as well as links between the past and contemporary Chinese foreign policy. This was done through a consideration of the period immediately surrounding the Revolution, an examination of China's situation in regards to territorial integrity, sovereignty, and national independence, and a survey of foreign penetration into China. It was also done through an investigation of China's reaction to external challenges and a discussion of the diverse domestic variables that shaped, hindered, and facilitated China's response to these external challenges.

From a policy perspective, it makes sense to think about history and Chinese foreign policy given the pervasiveness of historical issues in East Asia, China's resumption of its role as East Asia's leading (local) power, Chinese leaders' use of history to legitimate their rule, and the frequent and ongoing reference to history in Chinese foreign policy pronouncements, official documents, and academically oriented policy discourse. A theoretical reason to ponder the connection between history and Chinese foreign policy is to test the structuralist claim that similar contexts generate similar behaviors. A second rationale is to think about the interaction between domestic and international forces and the variables shaping these connections. A third is to move away from the Eurocentric bias in the international relations literature.75 Regarding the second rationale, this introduction indicates that we must be sensitive to the way that international actors and dynamics influenced China, which, in turn, shaped directly and indirectly the way that China dealt with the outside world. In addition, it demonstrates that we need to consider how domestic variables magnified, modified, and dampened the impact of those same external forces.

Imperial China died in 1911, but the ground was not fertile for New China (the ROC).76 The Treasury was bankrupt and, in some cases, China's armies were downright disloyal to Beijing. To add to the misery, China no longer had an overarching culture or a strong consensus on the forms its political institutions should take. Not surprisingly, within two short years, the ROC was in disarray and by 1915 China had become a country run by provincial warlords.77 As they so often did, foreigners took advantage of China's weaknesses to press yet new demands. In many respects, this portrait, which covers only a slice of the Xinhai Interregnum, seems to bear few similarities to today's PRC. Yet this introduction and various articles herein show there not only are a number of surface similarities between the Xinhai Interregnum and now, but some more substantive ones. Indeed, Xinhai Interregnum legacies can be found in China's foreign policy agenda, policies, and objectives. Still, other articles remind us there are some noteworthy dissimilarities, reinforcing the point that it may be most fruitful to understand the connection between Chinese foreign policy and history with a mix of approaches.


  1. 1

    Examples include Avery Goldstein, “Great Expectations: Interpreting China's Arrival,” International Security, 23-3 (Winter 1997/98), pp. 36–73; Alastair Iain Johnston, “Is China a Status Quo Power?” International Security, 27-4 (Spring 2003), pp. 5–56; Baohui Zhang, “Chinese Foreign Policy in Transition: Trends and Implications,” Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, 39-2 (2010), pp. 39–68; Andreas Boje Forsby, “An End to Harmony? The Rise of a Sino-Centric China,” Political Perspectives, 5-3 (2011), pp. 5–26; and Yi Feng's analysis in this special issue.

  2. 2

    Chinese analysts continue to debate how much power China really has, whether or not it can translate its power resources into its preferred outcomes, and how China can avoid using its power in a self-defeating manner. See, e.g., Ming Zhao, “The Predicaments of Chinese Power,” The New York Times (12 July 2012), at <> (searched date: 12 July 2012).

  3. 3

    For examples, see Philip Stephens, “A Risen China Reaches for Power,” Financial Times (9 December 2010); Drew Thompson, “Hu's Really in Control in China?” Foreign Policy (17 January 2011), at <> (searched date: 15 February 2011); Kathrin Hille, “Chinese Boats Fish in Dangerous Waters,” Financial Times (24 April 2012); Kathrin Hille, “Beijing Considers Stronger Foreign Ties,” Financial Times (15 August 2012); and Simon Rabinovitch, “China Wants Say in World Bank Choice,” Financial Times (16 February 2012).

  4. 4

    David Shambaugh, “The Year China Showed its Claws,” Financial Times (16 February 2010); Justin S. Hempson-Jones, “The Evolution of China's Engagement with International Governmental Organizations: Toward a Liberal Foreign Policy?” Asian Survey, 45-5 (September/October 2005), pp. 702–721; Christopher Hughes, “Reclassifying Chinese Nationalism: The Geopolitik Turn,” Journal of Contemporary China, 20-71 (2011), pp. 601–620; Michael D. Swaine, “China's Assertive Behavior – Part Three: The Role of the Military in Foreign Policy,” China Leadership Monitor, 36 (Winter 2012), pp. 1–17; and Simon Shen, “The Hidden Face of Comradeship: Popular Chinese Consensus on the DPRK and its Implications for Beijing's Policy,” Journal of Contemporary China, 21-75 (May 2012), pp. 427–443.

  5. 5

    An illustrative work is Mark Mancall, “The Persistence of Tradition in Chinese Foreign Policy,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 349 (September 1963), pp. 14–26.

  6. 6

    John K. Fairbank, “China's Foreign Policy in Historical Perspective,” Foreign Affairs, 47-3 (April 1969), pp. 449–463.

  7. 7

    John Cranmer-Byng, “The Chinese View of their Place in the World: An Historical Perspective,” The China Quarterly, 67 (1973), pp. 67–79.

  8. 8

    Alastair Iain Johnston, Cultural Realism: Culture and Grand Strategy in Chinese History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995).

  9. 9

    Christopher A. Ford, The Mind of Empire: China's History and Modern Foreign Relations (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2010).

  10. 10

    See, e.g., “Special Issue on Chinese Traditions in International Relations,” Journal of Chinese Political Science, 17-2 (June 2012).

  11. 11

    Michael Ng-Quinn, “The Analytical Study of Chinese Foreign Policy,” International Studies Quarterly, 27-2 (June 1983), pp. 207–208; Samuel S. Kim, “New Directions and Old Puzzles in Chinese Foreign Policy,” in Samuel S. Kim, ed., China and the World: New Directions in Chinese Foreign Relations, 2nd edn (Boulder: Westview Press, 1989), p. 16; Andrew J. Nathan and Robert S. Ross, The Great Wall and the Empty Fortress: China's Search for Security (New York: W.W. Norton, 1997), pp. 21–24.

  12. 12

    John K. Fairbank, op. cit., p. 450; Andrew J. Nathan and Robert S. Ross, op. cit., pp. 24–34; and Gilbert Rozman, “Invocations of Chinese Traditions in International Relations,” Journal of Chinese Political Science, 17-2 (June 2012), p. 117.

  13. 13

    Our perspective is that what came before and after the Revolution must be understood in terms of enduring processes than just in terms of the discrete events preceding or following it. We are influenced by discussions in Michael Gasster, “The Republican Revolutionary Movement,” in John K. Fairbank and Kwang-Ching Liu, eds., The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 11: Late Ch'ing, 1800–1911, Part 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), pp. 463–464; and William T. Rowe, China's Last Empire: The Great Qing (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2009), p. 5.

  14. 14

    Arif Dirlik and Roxann Prazniak, “The 1911 Revolution: An End and a Beginning,” China Information, 25-3 (2011), p. 215; R. Bin Wong, “Centennial Perspectives on China's 1911 Revolution,” China Information, 25-3 (2011), pp. 275–282; and Rana Mitter, “1911: The Unanchored Chinese Revolution,” The China Quarterly, 208 (December 2011), pp. 1009–1020.

  15. 15

    An exception is Kun-Chin Lin and Jean-Marc F. Blanchard, eds., Governance, Domestic Change and Social Policy in China: 100 Years After the Xinhai Revolution (Houndsmills: Palgrave MacMillan, forthcoming 2013).

  16. 16

    Marc Blecher, China Against the Tides: Revolution, Radicalism, and Reform, 2nd edn (London: Continuum, 2003), p. 13.

  17. 17

    William T. Rowe, op. cit., p. 185.

  18. 18

    These internal pressures are covered extensively in Jonathan D. Spence, The Search for Modern China, 2nd edn (New York: W.W Norton & Company, 1999), pp. 167–182; June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, Modernization and Revolution in China, 4th edn (Armonk: ME Sharpe, 2009), Chap. 3; and William T. Rowe, op. cit., pp. 91–96, 150–157, 175–200. The issue of opium is covered later.

  19. 19

    Marc Blecher, op. cit., p. 10; and William T. Rowe, op. cit., pp. 168–170.

  20. 20

    Background on the “unequal” treaties is available widely. See, e.g., Jonathan D. Spence, op. cit.; June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit., esp. Chap. 3; and William T. Rowe, op. cit. Some of the key terms of these treaties are covered below.

  21. 21

    Chuzo Ichiko, “Political and Institutional Reform, 1901–11,” in John K. Fairbank and Kwang-Ching Liu, eds., op. cit., pp. 395–415; Michael Gasster, op. cit., pp. 484, 506–514; and Jonathan D. Spence, op. cit.

  22. 22

    Hosea Ballou Morse, The International Relations of the Chinese Empire, Vol. III: The Period of Subjugation, 1894–1911 (New York: Paragon Books, 1910), p. 288; June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit., pp. 38–39; and William T. Rowe, op. cit., pp. 190, 230.

  23. 23

    Michael Gasster, op. cit., pp. 520–534; Jonathan D. Spence, op. cit., pp. 253–263; and William T. Rowe, op. cit., pp. 279–282.

  24. 24

    Michael Gasster, op. cit.; Marc Blecher, op. cit., pp. 13–14; and June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit., pp. 69–72. The gentry consisted of local bureaucrats, the intelligentsia, and landowners, which were interlocked by wealth, land ownership, political power, culture and ideology, and kinship (Marc Blecher, op. cit., pp. 7–9).

  25. 25

    Many, including Chinese policy-makers and academics, argue that these issues give Chinese policy an inward focus and lead it to concentrate heavily on economic development.

  26. 26

    On external environmental pressures, see Jones's contribution below.

  27. 27

    For instance, the Dutch and Portuguese acquired special trading rights in Macao and Taiwan. China ceded huge swaths of territory to Russia pursuant to the Treaties of Nerchinsk and Kyakhta. See, e.g., Mark Mancall, Russia and China: Their Diplomatic Relations to 1728 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971).

  28. 28

    Hosea Ballou Morse, op. cit., pp. 417–433; William C. Kirby, “The Internationalization of China: Foreign Relations at Home and Abroad in the Republican Era,” The China Quarterly, 150 (June 1997), pp. 436–438, 441–444; Jonathan D. Spence, op. cit., p. 279; June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit., pp. 53–54; and Prasenjit Duara, “The Multi-National State in Modern History: The Chinese Experiment,” Frontiers of History in China, 6-2 (2011), pp. 293–294.

  29. 29

    Prasenjit Duara, op. cit., pp. 288, 290–291.

  30. 30

    See, e.g., Hosea Ballou Morse, op. cit., pp. 338, 348–358, 417–425; June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit., pp. 37–38, 41; and Jonathan D. Spence, op. cit., p. 281.

  31. 31

    June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit., pp. 39–41.

  32. 32

    Background on the demise of China's traditional tributary relationships can be found in Immanuel C.Y. Hsu, “Late Ch'ing Foreign Relations, 1866–1905,” in John K. Fairbank and Kwang-Ching Liu, eds., op. cit., pp. 70–141; Jonathan D. Spence, op. cit.; and William T. Rowe, op. cit.

  33. 33

    Jonathan D. Spence, op. cit.; June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit.; and William T. Rowe, op. cit., pp. 190–193.

  34. 34

    Hosea Ballou Morse, op. cit., pp. 421–433; Jonathan D. Spence, op. cit., pp. 288–289; and William T. Rowe, op. cit., pp. 235–236.

  35. 35

    William C. Kirby, op. cit., pp. 433, 439–441; Jonathan D. Spence, op. cit.; and June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit., p. 67.

  36. 36

    See Chris Ogden (in this issue) and Jean-Marc F. Blanchard, “Economics and Asia-Pacific Region Territorial and Maritime Disputes: Understanding the Political Limits to Economic Solutions,” Asian Politics & Policy, 1-4 (October/December 2009), pp. 682–708; Zou Keyuan, “China and Maritime Boundary Delimitation: Past, Present, and Future,” in Ramses Amer and Keyuan Zou, Conflict Management and Dispute Settlement in East Asia (Surrey: Ashgate Publishing, 2011), pp. 149–170; and John Garver, “The Unresolved Sino-Indian Border Dispute: An Interpretation,” China Report, 47-2 (May 2011), pp. 99–113.

  37. 37

    See Catherine Jones (in this issue) and Jean-Marc F. Blanchard, “China's Grand Strategy and Money Muscle: The Potentialities and Pratfalls of China's Sovereign Wealth Fund and Renminbi Policies,” Chinese Journal of International Politics, 4-1 (Spring 2011), pp. 31–53; Jean-Marc F. Blanchard “China, Foreign Investors, and TRIMS: Bulking up, but Not Fully Compliant,” in Ka Zeng and Wei Liang, eds., China and Global Trade Governance: China's Ten-Year Experience in the World Trade Organization (London: Routledge, 2013); and Giuseppe Balducci, “The Limits of Normative Power Europe in Asia: The Case of Human Rights in China,” East Asia, 27-1 (March 2010), pp. 35–55.

  38. 38

    One can see this in how the post-9/11 global war on terror and 2003 Iraq War not only lessened American attention to China's rise and trade, human rights, and other practices, but also encouraged Washington to work with Beijing.

  39. 39

    William C. Kirby, op. cit., p. 433.

  40. 40

    William C. Kirby, op. cit., p. 434.

  41. 41

    Hosea Ballou Morse, op. cit., pp. 411–417; Immanuel C.Y. Hsu, op. cit., pp. 70–141; William C. Kirby, op. cit., pp. 446–457; Jonathan D. Spence, op. cit., pp. 308–312, 319–320; and June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit., pp. 81–82.

  42. 42

    Yen-P'iong Hao and Erh-Min Wang, “Changing Views of Western Relations, 1840–1895,” in John K. Fairbank and Kwang-Ching Liu, eds., op. cit., pp. 176–178; Hao Chang, “Intellectual Change and the Reform Movement, 1890–8,” in John K. Fairbank and Kwang-Ching Liu, eds., op. cit., pp. 277–280; and June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit., p. 57.

  43. 43

    Jonathan D. Spence, op. cit.; June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit., p. 34; and William T. Rowe, op. cit., pp. 158, 166–167.

  44. 44

    William C. Kirby, op. cit., p. 442.

  45. 45

    Ibid., pp. 433–434, 447–448.

  46. 46

    Julia C. Strauss, Strong Institutions in Weak Polities: State Building in Republican China, 1927–1940 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998); Hans van de Ven, War and Nationalism in China, 1925–1945 (London: Routledge, 2003); and Hans van de Ven, ed., Warfare in Chinese History (Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2000).

  47. 47

    Hosea Ballou Morse, op. cit., p. 434; William C. Kirby, op. cit., pp. 448–449; Jonathan D. Spence, op. cit., pp. 290–297; June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit., pp. 81–82; Leigh K. Jenco, “ ‘Rule by Man’ and ‘Rule by Law’ in Early Republican China: Contributions to a Theoretical Debate,” The Journal of Asian Studies, 69-1 (February 2010), pp. 181–203; and Prasenjit Duara, op. cit., p. 288.

  48. 48

    Rowe contends such nationalistic sentiments began to emerge after the 1842 Treaty of Nanjing. William T. Rowe, op. cit., pp. 174, 236–237.

  49. 49

    Yen-P'iong Hao and Erh-Min Wang, op. cit., pp. 188–200; Michael Gasster, op. cit., pp. 484–486; and William T. Rowe, op. cit., pp. 253–254, 265–268.

  50. 50

    John K. Fairbank and Kwang-Ching Liu, eds., op. cit., pp. xv–xvi.

  51. 51

    Barry Naughton, “China's Distinctive System: Can it be a Model for Others?” Journal of Contemporary China, 19-65 (June 2010), pp. 437–460; Jean-Marc F. Blanchard, “Chinese MNCs as China's New Long March: A Review and Critique of the Western Literature,” Journal of Chinese Political Science, 16-1 (March 2011), pp. 91–108; and Shaun Breslin, “China and the Crisis: Global Power, Domestic Caution, and Local Initiative,” Contemporary Politics, 17-2 (2011), pp. 185–200. Also relevant is Jones's piece in this special issue.

  52. 52

    William T. Rowe, op. cit., pp. 63–89, 133–138.

  53. 53

    These attempts are also noted in Connolly and Gottwald and Lim's respective articles in this special issue.

  54. 54

    Yen-P'iong Hao and Erh-Min Wang, op. cit., pp. 155–175, 181, 200–201; Marc Blecher, op. cit., pp. 10–11; and June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit., pp. 49–50. As these and other authors have noted, a movement designed to promote independence from foreigners paradoxically promoted some degree of dependence on foreigners who supplied advisers, capital, and technology.

  55. 55

    Immanuel C.Y. Hsu, op. cit., pp. 70–141; Jonathan D. Spence, op. cit., pp. 180–182, 197–213; and June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit., pp. 50–51.

  56. 56

    Hao Chang, op. cit., pp. 318–327; June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit., pp. 54–55; and William T. Rowe, op. cit., pp. 242–243.

  57. 57

    Chuzo Ichiko, op. cit., pp. 375–415; Michael Gasster, op. cit., pp. 515–516; and William T. Rowe, op. cit., pp. 255–262.

  58. 58

    June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit., pp. 76–81.

  59. 59

    For background, see Sujian Guo and Baogang Guo, eds., China in Search of a Harmonious Society (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2008); and Kun-Chin Lin and Jean-Marc F. Blanchard, eds., op. cit.

  60. 60

    William T. Rowe, op. cit., pp. 254–266.

  61. 61

    Yen-P'iong Hao and Erh-Min Wang, op. cit. Of course, as these and other authors have noted, China did not deal with all parties on an unequal basis and on occasion used Western-style diplomatic practice when circumstances required.

  62. 62

    Yen-P'iong Hao and Erh-Min Wang, op. cit., pp. 150–151, 173; and June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit., pp. 41–42.

  63. 63

    June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit., pp. 50–51.

  64. 64

    Yen-P'iong Hao and Erh-Min Wang, op. cit., pp. 153–186.

  65. 65

    Immanuel C.Y. Hsu, op. cit., pp. 70–141; Marc Blecher, op. cit., p. 13; and William T. Rowe, op. cit., pp. 149–150.

  66. 66

    Albert Feuerwerker, “Economic Trends in the late Ch'ing Empire, 1870–1911,” in John K. Fairbank and Kwang-Ching Liu, eds., op. cit., pp. 1–69; Wellington K.K. Chan, “Government, Merchants, and Industry to 1911,” in John K. Fairbank and Kwang-Ching Liu, eds., op. cit., pp. 416–462; and June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit., pp. 63–64.

  67. 67

    June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit., pp. 65–66.

  68. 68

    Hao Chang, op. cit., pp. 327–329; June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit., pp. 50–52, 55–56; and William T. Rowe, op. cit., pp. 247–249.

  69. 69

    Hao Chang, op. cit., pp. 300–318; June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit., pp. 46–49; and William T. Rowe, op. cit., pp. 193–209.

  70. 70

    June Grasso, Jay Corrin, and Michael Kort, op. cit., pp. 71–75.

  71. 71

    Marc Blecher, op. cit., pp. 7–9.

  72. 72

    Michael Gasster, op. cit., pp. 463–534; Marc Blecher, op. cit., pp. 10–12; and Dirlik and Prazniak, op. cit., p. 221.

  73. 73

    Hosea Ballou Morse, op. cit., pp. 434–439; Jonathan D. Spence, op. cit., 2nd edn; and William T. Rowe, op. cit., pp. 273–279.

  74. 74

    Lim believes China's ability to “internally balance” now is one factor clearly distinguishing it from Xinhai Interregnum China.

  75. 75

    A number of these points derive from Ming Wan, “Introduction: Chinese Traditions in International Relations,” Journal of Chinese Political Science, 17-2 (June 2012), p. 105. Connolly and Gottwald make a few of these points in their article in this special issue.

  76. 76

    Hosea Ballou Morse, op. cit., p. 446.

  77. 77

    Jonathan D. Spence, op. cit., pp. 271–272, 275, 277, 281–284.