China and the Foreign Other

Christopher A. Ford

in The Mind of Empire

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780813192635
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813135519 | DOI:
China and the Foreign Other

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Aside from being an important tool in the CCP's efforts to reunite and develop China, antiforeign sentiment also was an essential component of the party's political personality. The CCP came into power with a self-image as one with the struggle of China's people throughout history to defend their land from foreign invaders. The antiforeign themes during the Communist era seemed to have clear connections to long-standing assumptions about moral and civilizational gradients and the general depravity of barbarian societies remote from the Sinic culture core. In relating to foreigners, the CCP developed the waishi system, which implied “diplomacy with Chinese characteristics.” While the waishi system was revised in the 1990s to stress open economic relations and promoting interactions with foreigners in the interest of development, its focus on cultivating a sense of the foreigner as a fundamentally different and at least potentially threatening Other with whom one must deal warily remains unchanged through the years. In dealing with superpowers, Communist ideologists focused on the fundamental difference between China's disinterestedly virtuous motivations and those of the superpowers struggling for world hegemony. Under such terms, China could never regard itself as a superpower because its motivations were axiomatically noble and in no way self-interested. Nevertheless, China over time has began to show increasing reengagement in regular diplomatic relations, paying more attention to developing an actual foreign policy, particularly its relationship with the former Soviet Union and the US, especially at the end of the Cold War.

Keywords: People's Republic of China; Chinese Communist Party; international relations; US; Soviet Union; superpower; diplomacy; antiforeign sentiment; waishi system

Chapter.  7159 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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