Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 05/2012

Chinese Perspectives on International Power Shifts and Sino-EU Relations (2008–2011)

Nele Noesselt

April 2011

German Institute of Global and Area Studies


With the beginning of the post‐Maoist era, the focus of Chinese foreign policy shifted from ideology and revolution to pragmatism and reform. Chinese scholars in the field of International Relations (IR) are now encouraged to develop abstract scientific analyses of China’s international environment. This requires not only the handling of IR theories and methods of foreign policy analysis (FPA), but also a sound knowledge of the organizational structures and policy principles of other states. The professionalization of Chinese IR research does not automatically imply a convergence of “Chinese” and “Western” IR research. Chinese IR publications continue to construct the world from a Chinese point of view. To examine the views of China’s leading IR scholars on the current state and the future of the international system, this paper conducts a discourse analysis of China’s core IR journals. In order to illustrate the continuity and (gradual) changes in China’s perspectives on its international environment, the empirical part of the paper focuses on China’s reevaluation of the EU in the international context and as the PRC’s strategic partner. This evaluation is based on articles published between 2008 (the outbreak of the financial crisis) and 2011.