The independent resource on global security

New Foreign Policy Actors in China

Publisher: SIPRI
ISBN 978-91-85114-63-4
September, 2010

The dynamic transformation of Chinese society that has paralleled changes in the international environment has had a direct impact on both the making and shaping of Chinese foreign policy. To understand the complex nature of these changes is of utmost importance to the international community in seeking China’s engagement and cooperation. Although much about China’s foreign policy decision making remains obscure, this Policy Paper make clear that it is possible to identify the interest groups vying for a voice in policy formulation and to explore their policy preferences. Uniquely informed by the authors’ access to individuals across the full range of Chinese foreign policy actors, this Policy Paper reveals a number of emergent trends, chief among them the changing face of China’s official decision-making apparatus and the direction that actors on the margins would like to see Chinese foreign policy take.

New Foreign Policy Actors in China was named as one of the top 10 publications on global political economy in 2010 by Foreign Policy magazine.

About the authors

Linda Jakobson (Finland) is Director of the SIPRI China and Global Security Programme. She has lived and worked in China for over 15 years and is fluent in Chinese. She has written six books about China and has published extensively on China’s foreign policy, the Taiwan Strait, China’s energy security, and China’s policies on climate change and science and technology. Prior to joining SIPRI in 2009, Jakobson worked for 10 years for the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA), most recently as director of its China Programme.

Dean Knox (United States) is a Research Assistant with the SIPRI China and Global Security Programme. He holds a BS in nuclear engineering from the University of Illinois and a certificate in non-proliferation studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Knox was previously a research assistant at the East Asia Nonproliferation Program of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. He is fluent in Chinese and lived in Taiwan for six years.


1. Introduction

2. Official foreign policy actors

3. Factors influencing the mindset of foreign policy actors

4. Foreign policy actors on the margins

5. Conclusions