China's Pragmatic Foreign Policy
: International Socialization and Pariah States

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Attempts to understand China’s role in the international community have often revolved around questioning whether it is ‘inside’ or ‘outside’ of the system – specifically, does it share the principles of a liberal international world order or seek to create an alternative? Where China was once excluded, or even self-excluded, from active participation in the international community, reformist China is now truly enmeshed in it. Doubts, however, remain in some circles about the character of China’s engagement. Is it really ‘in’, and fully open to negotiation and compromise on all issues, or is it somehow just playing us all and waiting for the right opportunity to bare its teeth, and come back at us in a classical neo-realist fashion? Does it share the basic values that underpin the liberal international order?
Doubts like these have been exacerbated by China’s attitude and official statements toward states that the West has viewed to be outside the international order – frequently referred to as ‘pariah’ or ‘rogue’ states. Some view China’s strong relations with these ‘outcast’ states to be evidence that China itself is somehow tainted. China’s continued involvement with these ‘pariahs’ requires that China have a role in solving the potential international security challenges. How exactly China does this will show where China’s values lie.
This dissertation reviews China’s diplomacy toward three such pariah states to see what it might say on this bigger question. Did China identify closely with these states? Has its policy remained constant over time? Does China view these states as pariah states in western terms? Has it actually internalized such a definition? Is there any evidence of a shift toward acceptance of the label “pariah state” and the normative values this represents? If so, what would that tell us about how Chinese foreign policy has developed? The dissertation offers a comprehensive look at how and why China has interacted with these nations and the ways in which its policies have changed. It concludes that China did in fact shift towards the Western position and in so doing, revealed that - in these areas at least – it is more ‘in’ than ‘out’ the international system.
Date of Award2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorGreg Austin (Supervisor), Charlotte Goodburn (Supervisor) & Ramon Pacheco Pardo (Supervisor)

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