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Chinese Intellectuals’ Debate and Pragmatic Approach to Non-intervention Policy

  • Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies
  • Abbr : JAPS
  • 2019, 26(3), pp.25-63
  • DOI : 10.18107/japs.2019.26.3.002
  • Publisher : Institute of Global Affairs
  • Research Area : Social Science > Social Science in general
  • Received : August 19, 2019
  • Accepted : September 17, 2019
  • Published : September 30, 2019

Kang Su-Jeong 1

1성균관대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The “non-intervention” is one of the most important diplomatic principles China has adhered to in international relations since the early 1950s. However, with the rise of China, the need for China’s international intervention has gradually expanded due to its changing international status and environment, and academic debates have emerged at home and abroad over the validity and sustainability of the policy of non- intervention. This study pays attention to the perception and discourse of Chinese intellectuals regarding this debate. Through the discourse analysis of the writings of Chinese intellectuals, especially political scientists, this research attempts to explore China’s internal perspectives and orientations regarding its principle and policy of non-intervention. Through such analysis, this article argues that there are three main positions in the debate about China’s policy of non-intervention. The first is a critical position that raises the need for a change (correcting or scrapping) in China’s policy of non-intervention. The second is a conservative position that the existing principle is still beneficial to China and it should continue to adhere to the principle. And, the third is a pragmatic point of view that it calls for more creativity and flexibility in its implementation and application of the principle. These discourses of Chinese intellectuals are gradually converging into the third pragmatic approach. Thus, the debate within China over its policy of non-intervention is not focused on whether to scrap or adhere to the principle of non-intervention, but rather on how to protect and promote China’s expanding national interests, international status and role as a rising great power through more flexible and pragmatic interpretations and applications of the principle. In this light, the dispute among Chinese intellectuals over the policy of non-intervention can be seen as part of a broader diplomatic and strategic discussion in which China as a rising great power searches for the conditions and ways of legitimate international intervention to protect its national interests and to deal with the many new expectations and demands facing it domestically as well as internationally.

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This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.