A brave new world according to the “China model” or a fragmented international order? Internal contradictions and other peculiarities in China's foreign policy

kutsutilaisuus · SEMINAR · 19.05.2022 10:00 - 11:30


China is often presented as an authoritarian monolith whose foreign policy also follows the party line. The Chinese leadership is eager to promote a “China Model” as an alternative to the existing international order. Despite the appearance of unity and strength, there are many inconsistencies in China’s foreign policy. China holds that states should not intervene in the affairs of other states, but has actually not acted accordingly in recent years. These inconsistencies, in combination with China’s growing power, will have dramatic effects on the future shape of international order.

This seminar focuses on the nature and reasons of these inconsistences. There are different sources of the Chinese Communist Party’s domestic legitimacy competing within the complex and highly fragmented Chinese party-state. Based on his new book, the speaker Tim Rühlig elucidates how Chinese foreign policymakers strategize and react within the context of a massive and complex bureaucratic system that is constantly under pressure from many sides. Rühlig suggests that the inconsistencies are likely to contribute to a more particularistic, plural, and fragmented international order in the years to come.


Tim Rühlig

Research Fellow, German Council on Foreign Relations

Tim Rühlig is a Research Fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) researching Europe-China relations, Chinese foreign and industrial policy including high technology and Hong Kong politics. He is also an associate researcher at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs (Utrikespolitiska institutet, UI). His newest book “China’s Foreign Policy Contradictions: Lessons from China’s R2P, Hong Kong and WTO Policy” was published in 2022 with Oxford University Press.


Elina Sinkkonen

Senior Research Fellow, FIIA

Elina Sinkkonen is a Senior Research Fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. Her research interests include Chinese nationalism, public opinion issues in China, authoritarian regimes, regional security in East Asia and domestic-foreign policy nexus in IR theory. Sinkkonen is currently finishing up a multiyear project on authoritarian resilience, funded by the Kone Foundation. She is also a member of Academy of Finland funded project ForAc (Foreign acquisitions and political retaliation as threats to supply security in an era of strategic decoupling).


Bart Gaens

Leading Researcher, FIIA

Bart Gaens works as Leading Research Fellow at the Global Security Research Programme at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, where he is in charge of a project on connectivity in the Indo-Pacific region. He is also Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Helsinki. He has published on Europe-Asia interregionalism and the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) process, Japan’s foreign policy and regional role, India’s foreign policy and relations with the EU, domestic politics in Myanmar, and security-related issues in the Asian region. He has also (co)edited volumes and reports on connectivity, EU-Asia relations, the US-China rivalry, transatlantic relations, and Japan’s search for strategic partnerships.