I am grateful to my regular commenter, JK, for sending me a link to an article in the NYTimes written by Prof. Zheng Wang, an expert on foreign policy matters, particularly those of China. In it, he suggests that part of the problem with China's foreign policy is that it does not exist! Thinking about it and bearing in mind the last century or two in which, on good days, China was only a small and divided player in strictly regional affairs, adn on bad days, was a wrecked and raped plaything of much greater players on the international scene. Thus, it is hardly surprising that its sudden rise to global domination leaves it somewhat bewildered as it looks about it from on high and wonders what in hell to do!
Prof. Zheng indorms us that none of the members of the very top standing committees who rule China have any experience in foreign policy. In any case, he reminds us, their main, indeed, their imperative, concern is how to maintain 'Communist' Party control of a rapidly acquisitive population, that is, a population that seeks not only prosperity but also political power of a sort that is in direct opposition to the existing one party state. Naturally, the government will, from time to time, use foreign issues in the time honoured way as a means to whip up nationalist fervour, but mostly this is confined to 'neighbourhood' issues like control of the South China Seas.
When it comes to grand strategic plans for China's place in a global context there appears to be a vacuum! This is dangerous in that we have already suffered with the USA blundering from one folly to another and no clear idea on direction or purpose. The thought of a totally inexperienced China doing the same does not bear contemplation. Rather sensibly, they appear to be aware of their shortcomings and - for the moment! - they are not exerting themselves in any one particular direction. However, as a wise man once said, "Stick around, you ain't seen nuthin' yet!"