The Dragon Roars Back
Transformational Leaders and Dynamics of Chinese Foreign Policy
Suisheng Zhao


Contents and Abstracts
chapter abstract

The introduction introduces the scope, theoretic issues, and argument of the book. Pointing out the lack of systematic investigation over the dynamics of Chinese foreign policy and the driving forces that have undergone profound change since the founding of the PRC, it argues that while China's relative power position in the world has been fundamental, leaders with new visions and political wisdom to exercise personal and office power are the game-changers. The introduction also provides an overview of the structure of the book and highlights how Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and Xi Jinping—with different personalities, visions, and policy-making styles and preferences—have each set a unique course of Chinese foreign policy.

1 Mao Zedong's Revolutionary Diplomacy: Keeping the Wolves from the Door
chapter abstract

This chapter focuses on Mao Zedong's revolutionary diplomacy, which was rhetorically militant but in practice was strategic for his foreign policy priority. Starting with the examination of the formation of the Sino-Soviet alliance and the missed opportunity of building the Sino-US relationship after the founding of the PRC, it then analyzes the motivation and decision process of China's entry into the Korean War in 1950 and how the Korean War deferred China's military takeover of Taiwan and led to Mao's noose policy to keep the ties between Taiwan and the mainland. The next sections examine the Sino-Soviet split in the 1960s and how the US escalation of the war in Vietnam triggered the strategic realignment between China and the United States to build an international anti-Soviet United Front. It ends with the exploration of the power realignment in East Asia brought by the Sino-US rapprochement.

2 Deng Xiaoping's Developmental Diplomacy: Biding for China's Time
chapter abstract

This chapter explores Deng Xiaoping's developmental diplomacy in creating a favorable external environment for economic modernization. The starting point of the new course was the normalization of diplomatic relations with the United States. Making pragmatic compromises and holding high expectations for normalization, Deng, however, quickly discovered that the inherent ideological and political differences between China and the US prevented them from developing close partnerships. To mitigate the vulnerabilities of dependence on the US, Deng adopted an independent foreign policy to improve the relationship with the Soviet Union and build leverage in the relationship with the US. After the end of the Cold War, Deng formulated a low-profile policy to focus on domestic development and devoted great attention to good neighboring relations. His successors Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao faithfully followed the course and balanced the moderation and big power aspiration after China was widely recognized as a rising power.

3 Xi Jinping's Big Power Diplomacy: Showing China's Sword
chapter abstract

This chapter explores Xi Jinping's big power diplomacy. The shift started during the 2008–09 global financial crisis. A peculiar combination of confidence and frustration provided a breeding ground for Xi Jinping to present the China Dream and the vision of the profound change in which China is on the rise and the West in decline. In response to Xi's call to demonstrate the fighting spirit and show their swords, Chinese diplomats have become wolf worriers to win diplomatic battles. Embarking on the full enunciation of a proactive approach to foreign relations, Xi Jinping has laid the baseline that other countries cannot cross. China no longer accommodates US interests without conditions; has vowed to build into a maritime big power to take back Taiwan and other "lost" territories, and aims to carve out a sphere of influence in the enlarged periphery as a pathway for global preeminence.

4 Power of the Past over the Present: The Imperial Glory versus the Century of Humiliation
chapter abstract

This chapter examines how transformational leaders have reconstructed the collective memories of China's mythologized history to provide a parallel for the current policy. China's sharply contrasting historical experiences have left rich legacies for their maneuver: the imperial glory of the past millennia has left an ethnocentric world outlook, and modern humiliation resulting from the invasion of the foreign imperialist powers has created a unique sense of victimization, insecurity, and righteousness in foreign affairs. The communist state has manipulated the memories of imperial glory to fuel nostalgia for the national rejuvenation and the memories of national trauma to motivate the Chinese people to overcome vulnerability and resist foreign pressures.

5 Defining National Interests: State versus Popular Nationalism
chapter abstract

This chapter analyzes how transformational leaders have manipulated communism and nationalism to shape the ideational environment. While Mao Zedong tried to practice communist internationalism, he followed nationalism to protect China's political and security interests. Communism began losing its broad appeal after Deng Xiaoping incepted economic reform in the 1980s. Nationalism has thereafter dominated the delineation of China's national interests. For many years after the end of the Cold War, state-led nationalism was more affirmative than assertive. Xi Jinping has intensified the patriotic education campaign and tightened information control to rally support for redeeming the humiliation and resuming the historic role of the preeminent power in Asia and beyond. Chinese nationalism has therefore become more assertive than affirmative to target negative "others."

6 The Party-State Hierarchy: Paramount Leaders versus Institutions
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This chapter explores how transformational leaders have structured foreign policy institutions for their policy agenda. Mao made policy decisions top-down and personally on strategic and security issues and delegated routine decisions and supervision of bureaucracy to his trusted lieutenant, Zhou Enlai. Deng Xiaoping's open-up to the outside world brought more institutional players into the foreign policy arena and began to decentralize foreign policy authorities to the bureaucracy, which raised the status of the informal central party coordination and elaboration institutions (LSG). Xi Jinping has recentralized foreign-policy-making authorities as well as built new and upgraded existing foreign policy coordination institutions toprovide strong institutional support for his big power diplomacy. With his vision of enlarged diplomacy to extend diplomacy beyond the sphere of professional diplomats, Xi Jinping has empowered state foreign policy bureaucracies, expanded the reach of party diplomacy, and tightened the reins over military diplomacy.

7 Searching for China's Place in the Sun: International Distribution of Power
chapter abstract

This chapter explores how transformational leaders have overcome constraints and explored opportunities from global power distribution. Mao Zedong took a flexible alignment strategy and played one superpower against another. Deng Xiaoping leveraged China's flexible alignment practices and placed China as the much-coveted balancing third force in the strategic triangle and formulated the low-profile policy so that China could survive isolation after the Cold War. Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao pushed for multipolarity against the US unipolar moment and looked forward to the shift of power distribution to a G2 world after the global financial crisis in 2008. Xi Jinping has wielded China's heft to pursue China's big power ambition and sustain China as a formidable competitor in the emerging bipolar world. The two powers, incapable of dominating each other, have dictated the endurability of the bipolarity, a force that Xi Jinping has exploited.

8 From Revolutionary State to Revisionist Stakeholder: The World Order and Globalization
chapter abstract

This chapter examines how Chinese leaders have exploited the post–World War II order constructed under US leadership. The PRC was not included. Mao Zedong as a revolutionary leader aimed to overthrow the US-led order. Deng Xiaoping's opening-up benefited enormously from the order. China became a stakeholder. Xi Jinping has challenged the US-led order as unfair and unreasonable enough to reflect the interests and values of emerging powers like China. China has become a revisionist power and demanded reforms in global governance. Remaining a beneficiary of the existing order, however, China has not provided sweeping global public goods or articulated alternative values that are universally accepted. Xi Jinping's reform demands have focused primarily on obtaining a position commensurate to China's power status and making the world order more reflective of the twenty-first-century balance of power rather than replacing it.

9 Conclusion: The Mandate of Heaven? China's Quest and Peril
chapter abstract

The conclusion summarizes the evolution of China's foreign policy in the historical context of China's quest for independence/security, prosperity, and power. It then highlights the intended and unintended consequences of the manipulation of historical memories, nationalism, and policy-making institutions. It ends with the exploration of the so-what question in the context of growing US-China rivalry to help extend and augment the relevance of the book moving forward.