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The US-China Trade War and antagonistic rhetoric related to the COVID-19 pandemic have taken turns in dominating the headlines, leaving lasting bilateral effects. While the US-China relationship remains very important, China is becoming an increasingly global power with interests across the entire world.
China has relations with over 170 countries, had outward foreign direct investment totaling over $118 billion in 2019, and through Chairman Xi’s signature “Belt and Road Initiative” is building infrastructure throughout Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and Africa.
China has arguably been an engine of global growth and when China slows down, the whole world feels the impact.
Along with that growing economic influence comes a desire to shape political outcomes as well. Under President Xi, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has beefed up its budget by billions of dollars and exhorted State Media to “tell China’s story well” not just at home but abroad.
This political influence and “sharp power” has been been felt throughout the world. “Hide and bide”, China’s former low-key foreign relations strategy, appears to be over. China has begun to assert itself on the world’s stage like never before.
In terms of hard power, China militarized islands in the South China Sea and has clashed with Southeast Asian countries in multilateral forums. It has also recently opened its first overseas military base, in Djibouti.
There are even reports of China establishing a military presence in Central Asia and they have begun to fund ports throughout the Indian Ocean that could have military applications.
Another key factor in China’s global plans is its desire to shape the technological standards and governance norms of the future. This can be seen in the global “fight for 5G”, pushing for “cyber-sovereignty” in internet governance, and Chinese tech companies’ massive investments in Southeast Asia.
To help our readers understand these issues and more, we have collected a series of articles focusing on China’s relations with regions throughout the world. To get started, click on the map on your region of interest. New articles will be released every week.
Graduate students, if you’re interested in contributing to this project, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org! Preference will be given to UC San Diego and APSIA school students.