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Chinese foreign policy in the 'Going Out' era: confronting challenges and 'Adaptive Learning' in the case of China-Sudan and South Sudan Relations

Barber, Laura (2014) Chinese foreign policy in the 'Going Out' era: confronting challenges and 'Adaptive Learning' in the case of China-Sudan and South Sudan Relations. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis seeks to understand change within China's foreign policy under a 'Going Out' strategy in Sudan and South Sudan between 1993 and 2013. China has traditionally viewed the Sudanese and African context more generally as having a wholly positive impact on its interests. However, in the Sudan case, the insertion of China's leading National Oil Company into the Sudanese political economy from the mid-1990s has meant that Sudan's internal situation has negatively affected China’s interests and, in turn, impacted on its foreign policy. Drawing from 'learning' theory within International Relations' sub-field of Foreign Policy Analysis, this thesis develops a concept of negative experiential 'adaptive learning' to explain change within this case study. It firstly argues that from 2005 China tactically adapted its foreign policy approach in response to challenges that emerged along the trajectory of engagement. Secondly, China's foreign policy implementing institutions collectively learnt the specific lesson that local conflict dynamics in the Sudans could negatively affect Chinese interests, and also learntthe limitations within China’s foreign policy approach. This research finds that throughout the period of change between 2005 and 2011, China's diplomacy remained predominately reactive and defensive. However, since 2012 China began to develop a more assertive foreign policy approach vis-à-vis the long-term resolution of Sudanese conflicts. This has been underpinned by the gradual learning of broader lessons regarding China's traditional understanding of the nature of Sudanese conflicts and its peace and security role therein. Overall, this thesis aims to provide an in-depth holistic analysis of the evolution of China's contemporary foreign policy towards Sudan and South Sudan. A specific contribution to the literature has been to develop the concept of 'adaptive learning', which can be utilised across other case studies to broaden our understanding of Chinese foreign policy towards Africa in the 'Going Out' era.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Laura Barber
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Alden, Christopher

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