Table of Contents

Handbook of the Politics of China

Handbook of the Politics of China

Handbooks of Research on Contemporary China series

Edited by David S.G. Goodman

The Handbook of the Politics of China is a comprehensive resource introducing readers to the very latest in research on Chinese politics. David Goodman provides an introduction to the key structures and issues, providing the foundations on which later learning can be built. It contains four sections of new and original research, dealing with leadership and institutions, public policy, political economy and social change, and international relations and includes a comprehensive bibliography. Each of the 26 chapters has been written by an established authority in the field and each reviews the literature on the topic, and presents the latest findings of research. An essential primer for the study of China’s politics.

Chapter 21: China on the world stage

Shaun Breslin

Subjects: asian studies, asian politics and policy, politics and public policy, asian politics


In an era when China is widely regarded as one of the major actors on the world stage, it is salient to remember that this role is a relatively recent phenomenon. To be sure, China was never really wholly absent from the world stage, even during the relatively isolationist days of the Maoist era. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) was, after all, a nuclear power from the mid-1960s, a willing pawn in power-balancing between the superpowers during the Cold War, and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) with veto power from 1971. Nevertheless, the scope and depth of China’s global presence and power today is markedly different from the first decades of the PRC, and the way in which China exercises its rising power has been identified as one of the most important ‘great dramas’ of the twenty-first century which will help to determine the fate of the Western global liberal order (Ikenberry 2008: 23). The primary purpose of this chapter, then, is to trace the way in which China has emerged from relative isolation to become an actor on the world stage with the potential to influence the trajectory of global politics.

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