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About this book

This book intends to make sense of how Chinese leaders perceive China’s rise in the world through the eyes of China’s international relations (IR) scholars. Drawing on a unique, four-year opinion survey of these scholars at the annual conference of the Chinese Community of Political Science and International Studies (CCPSIS) in Beijing from 2014–2017, the authors examine Chinese IR scholars’ perceptions of and views on key issues related to China’s power, its relationship with the United States and other major countries, and China’s position in the international system and track their changes over time. Furthermore, the authors complement the surveys with a textual analysis of the academic publications in China’s top five IR journals. By comparing and contrasting the opinion surveys and textual analyses, this book sheds new light on how Chinese IR scholars view the world as well as how they might influence China’s foreign policy.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Taking Chinese IR Scholars Seriously

Abstract
In this chapter, we first discuss the existing research on China’s public opinion and foreign policy and suggest that the general, public-targeted survey research faces three analytical weaknesses. We then introduce our unique “opinion survey and textual analysis” approach, which integrates survey research techniques and traditional textual analyses of Chinese international relations (IR) scholars’ writings. We argue that our book makes two contributions to the study of China’s international relations. On one hand, we fill an intellectual gap in the study of Chinese IR scholars’ perceptions of international relations in the 2010s through a unique analytical approach integrating opinion surveys and textual analysis. On the other hand, through the eyes of Chinese IR scholars, we make sense of what Chinese policy makers may think about the world.
Huiyun Feng, Kai He, Xiaojun Li

Chapter 2. On China’s Power and the International Order: Is China a Challenger?

Abstract
This chapter provides a comprehensive assessment of what Chinese international relations (IR) scholars think about China’s power. We find that that most Chinese IR scholars hold a seemingly contradictory but realistic view of China’s capabilities in the international system. Although they are optimistic about China’s rise, they do not perceive a rapid decline of the United States in the foreseeable future, nor do they envision China overtaking the United States in terms of its economic, military, political, cultural, and comprehensive power. In addition, Chinese IR scholars do not perceive a confrontation between China and the outside world. Instead, they advocate a reforming role for China, whereby it would reshape the international order from inside instead of challenging or overthrowing the international order from outside.
Huiyun Feng, Kai He, Xiaojun Li

Chapter 3. On US–China Relations: Problems and Prospects

Abstract
This chapter examines Chinese international relations (IR) scholars’ perceptions of the US–China relations. We show that a majority of Chinese IR scholars hold a neutral view on bilateral relations, pointing out both challenges (Taiwan and South China Sea disputes) and shared interests (nuclear non-proliferation and anti-terrorism) between the two nations. We further note that Chinese IR scholars take into account both historical patterns and current domestic political cycles within the United States when assessing the current status and future trajectory of US–China relations. They are also biased toward security issues, which might explain why many were taken aback by the recent deterioration in bilateral relations after Trump launched a trade war against China in 2018.
Huiyun Feng, Kai He, Xiaojun Li

Chapter 4. On Chinese Foreign Policy and International Relations

Abstract
This chapter examines China’s foreign policies more broadly. We find that most Chinese international relations (IR) scholars are positive and satisfied about China’s foreign policy practices in general and agree that China has become more assertive since the 2008 global financial crisis. Chinese IR scholars give high scores to China’s relationships with Africa, Russia, the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and Latin America but are much less optimistic with respect to China’s relation with India and Japan. While the majority of Chinese scholars in our surveys believed that China should adjust its “keep-a-low-profile” principle and establish military alliances, in their publications we see more diverse and nuanced arguments, calling for these principles to be revised rather than abandoned.
Huiyun Feng, Kai He, Xiaojun Li

Chapter 5. Understanding China’s Rise Through the Eyes of Scholars and Beyond

Abstract
The chapter summarizes the findings of the book. We further show that Chinese international relations (IR) scholars perceive the United States to pose the greatest threat to China’s national security, but a direct military confrontation between the two countries in the near future unlikely. If Chinese IR scholars can be seen as a reliable proxy measure of Chinese leadership, our study suggests that China has a benign and somewhat (over)optimistic perception on US–China relations before Trump’s “trade war” with China in early 2018. While the trade war might eventually be resolved, it will not be the end of US–China competition for prestige and leadership in the international system. How to share international leadership will be a challenge for both countries in the twenty-first century.
Huiyun Feng, Kai He, Xiaojun Li

Backmatter

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