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Foreign Policy Contestation in the Xi Era

Under Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party has sought to recentralize foreign policy. Yet despite these efforts, which have included the creation of new high-level institutions designed to streamline decision-making, Chinese foreign policy remains fragmented. Existing scholarship has identified the multitude of actors involved in Chinese foreign policy, as well as the influence of the decision-making process on China’s international behavior. However, important questions remain about the parameters, sources, and implications of internal contestation over Chinese foreign policy.

This project seeks to answer three questions about the domestic politics of China’s US policy in the current Xi era. First, which issues in China’s US policy are most prone to internal contestation? Identifying these specific issues is critical to managing expectations about when China may be most likely to accommodate US interests. Second, on issues over which contestation is most intense, why do the political actors who comprise the various coalitional divisions advance their respective interests? I plan to focus on the role of career advancement incentives – in particular, pressures to demonstrate political loyalty and to meet bureaucratic expectations. Focusing on these pressures will shed light on why some political actors may prefer cooperation, while others may prefer a more hawkish approach or policies that would reduce dependence on the United States. Finally, how do domestic political actors with a stake in China’s US policy seek to exert influence? One way that they can shape outcomes directly is through their interactions with US counterparts. A close assessment of these interactions will contribute to efforts to discern when China’s international behavior may reflect underlying strategic intentions, or when it may instead be an outgrowth of internal contestation and fragmentation.

Kacie Miura
Kacie Miura

Dr. Kacie Miura is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of San Diego. Her research focuses on the links between domestic and international politics with a regional focus on China and the Asia-Pacific. Dr. Miura holds a PhD in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was a member of the Security Studies Program. She was previously a research fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. She received her MA from Yale University and BA from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She was also a Peace Corps volunteer in Fuling, China.

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