The Foreign Policy Essay: The Fault Lines in China’s New Empire

Cadets of the Peoples LIberation Army. Image: US Department of Defense/Flickr

This article was originally published by the Lawfare Blog on 9 November 2014.

Editor’s Note: Under President Xi Jinping, China appears more aggressive and dictatorial: a worrisome combination as China’s wealth makes it more influential and helps it build a stronger military. Drawing on her piece in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, Elizabeth Economy of the Council on Foreign Relations argues that Xi’s “China Dream” is not coming to pass: his attempt to transform the country is encountering resistance, and the resulting divisions and weaknesses are likely to limit Beijing’s influence in the years to come.

Chinese president Xi Jinping is attempting to reform—even revolutionize—political and economic relations within China as well as between China and the rest of the world. He has articulated a vision for China that is well encapsulated in his “China Dream,” or the rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation. In practical terms, this means Xi Jinping himself is at the top of a strong Communist Party, at the forefront of the political system, in command of a robust and innovative Chinese economy, and fostering an expansive foreign policy in which all roads lead to Beijing. It is a Chinese empire with socialist characteristics.


Afghanistan in the Balance

Afghanistan in a precarious balance between great powers, photo: imagemonkey/flickr

Afghanistan has long been precariously positioned within the international balance of power, where it has served as both playground and graveyard of rival nation-states. This week the ISN takes a closer look at Afghanistan’s continued importance in relation to great power politics, in addition to its more closely documented localized conflicts.

This ISN Special Report contains the following content:

  • An Analysis by Professor John Brobst, on the importance of Afghanistan in relation to great power politics.
  • A Podcast interview with Professor Anatol Lieven of King’s College London explores the fundamental difficulties that the international community faces in trying to forge a peace or build a nation in a country with a fraught history, deep divisions and a disdain for outside interference.
  • Security Watch articles about the Wikileaks and McCrystal scandals, the donor gap and much more.
  • Publications housed in our Digital Library, including the Institute of South Asian Studies’ papers on President Zardari in China and the Afghan peace jirga.
  • Primary Resources, like the full-text of President Obama’s June 23rd statement on the General McCrystal firing.
  • Links to relevant websites, such as the ‘Afghanistan Conflict Monitor’ blog, an initiative of the Human Security Report at the School for International Studies at Simon Fraser University.
  • Our IR Directory, featuring the Afghanistan Women Council, designed to assist and empower Afghan women and children.