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Foreign Relations

Foreign Relations

Geoeconomics and International Security

There has never been a period in which China’s diplomats were more active on the global stage. Under President Xi, the Chinese leadership has substantially stepped up its foreign policy ambitions, heavily expanding the scope of its activities in the region and its global reach. By altering long-standing traditions of relative restraint and adjusting key foreign policy priorities, Beijing is engineering a new course in global affairs.

This programme analyses drivers and outcomes of China’s global foreign economic and security policy. It pays particular attention to the role of domestic developments, as well as the interplay of economic and security factors in explaining China’s current foreign relations.

China’s rapid rise in the global economy, its geoeconomic force and evolving security posture raise fundamental questions, not only for the West: How can this new centre of power continue to be integrated into international rules and responsibilities? What are the risks of cooperation, and what new opportunities does it offer? How do domestic developments such as the progressive internationalisation of the economy and society influence China’s foreign policy? What are direct and indirect impacts on Germany and Europe?

The list of recent policy successes is long and the sheer weight of China’s growing economic, diplomatic and military capabilities will continue to deepen its global footprint with far-reaching consequences for the world order and our everyday lives. Yet there are fundamental challenges to China’s expanding role including the strong counterforces of international competition and rising security tensions as well as frictions in its domestic development path.

China is turning into a precarious global power as it confronts an increasingly complex international risk map while enduring the most challenging period of its domestic economic transformation for decades. Crucially, the way in which the PRC leadership translates and exports domestic policy approaches to the international realm will prove the ultimate test of its aspirations to global leadership.

Research Team

  • Stiftung Mercator