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China's Nationalist Foreign Policy in a Globalized Era: Historical Logic, Confident Insecurity, and Domestic Politics Open Access Deposited

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On 12 July 2016, the South China Sea arbitration reveals a dangerous relapse of the country’s nationalist tendencies in foreign policy. Cultural topography, an intelligence analysis technique, allows us to integrate existing findings into a systematic analytical framework from a fresh perspective. Three cultural elements are juxtaposed in our study: historical logic, the “confident insecurity” mentality, and the problematic domestic political situation. We conclude that protecting national pride through nationalist diplomacy is stereotyped in a positive way in Chinese historical logic; the power of ancient Chinese empire and the Century of Humiliation jointly created the country’s misguided obsession with national dignity and its ingrained distrust of foreign countries; and nationalist foreign policy as an extension of domestic political propaganda has facilitated economic and political capital trade-off, which has maintained social stability. Our findings indicate that a departure from the reliance of nationalism as the only integrative ideology is strategically beneficial for China in the long run. For the international community, the cultural topographic analysis of China’s nationalism can enrich understanding of China’s underlying foreign policy motivations, so as to make better decisions according to their own strategic outlook.

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