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“How China’s History Shapes, and Warps, its Policies Today,” Foreign Policy

ChinaFile Conversation: How Does China’s Imperial Past Shape Its Foreign Policy Today?

Throughout most of history China dominated Asia, up until what many Chinese refer to as the “century of humiliation”—when Japan and Western powers invaded or otherwise interfered between 1839 and 1949. Now, with China on the rise again, are Beijing’s leaders looking to establish a new hegemony by drawing on the playbook of the distant past, when China’s neighbors were forced to pay tribute? Or will China’s international relations be shaped less by an antiquated tribute system with China at its core, and more by the principles of the Westphalian treaties that brought peace and the concept of co-existing sovereign states to Europe in the 17th century?

Originally published by ChinaFile on March 15, 2017 and republished by Foreign Policy on March 22, 2017