Chinese Perception of the US – Exploring China’s Foreign Policy Motivations
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Xiamen University
Publication date: 2020-06-24
Stosunki Międzynarodowe – International Relations 2016;52(2):307–322
This paper tries to explore China’s foreign policy motivations vis-à-vis the United States in the 1990s and in the current period. This research indicates that in terms of national interest, China’s dominant inclinations toward the US in the 1990s were appeasement and cooperation. The findings regarding the perceptions of American economy and politics indicate that when national interest was not directly involved, for the Chinese the great differences between the US and Chinese economic and political systems would not necessarily lead to conflict between the two countries and would rather provide a basis for cooperation. In the 1990s, the dominant images of the US in China were as follows: a partner, a role model, an imperialist power. All these images support the proposition that China was a status quo power. This paper tries to explore China’s motivation toward the United States in the current period via case studies and literature survey. The two cases studied are the South China Sea disputes and the Chinese proposal of forging a ‘New Type of Great Power Relations’ between the US and China. These two cases suggest that currently the United States is perceived in China mainly as a partner and an imperialist power. The behavioural implications of these two images are that promoting cooperation and avoiding confrontation remain China’s foreign policy motivation regarding the United States. This conclusion is supported by a survey of relevant documents and academic literature.