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China’s Shadow Foreign Policy

Parallel Structures Challenge the Established International Order

In this China Monitor, Sebastian HeilmannMikko Huotari and Moritz Rudolf argue, that China’s foreign policy is working systematically towards a realignment of the international order through establishing parallel structures to a wide range of international institutions. China has taken on a key role in financing these alternative mechanisms that are designed to increase China’s autonomy vis-à-vis U.S.-dominated institutions and to expand its international sphere of influence.

With a network of China-centred organizations and mechanisms, China is strategically targeting gaps within established intergovernmental structures. Nonetheless China continues to be involved in existing institutions. Chinese foreign policy is not seeking to demolish or exit from current international organizations and multilateral regimes. Instead, it is constructing supplementary — in part complementary, in part competitive — channels for shaping the international order beyond Western claims to leadership.