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China's Just World: The Morality of Chinese Foreign Policy

Chih-yu Shih
ISBN: 978-1-55587-350-9
1993/246 pages/LC: 92-1774

"An original and provocative book which proposes to interpret Chinese foreign policy from the perspective of the moral commitments of the PRC leadership. . . . should be read by anyone determined to understand PRC foreign relations."—Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs

"Complex and important study of the cognitive and structural sources of China's foreign policy. . . . Shih's culturally and historically specific arguments are powerful."—Australian Journal of Political Science

"An engaging study of China's diplomatic behavior."—Choice


Looking at China's foreign policy, this book focuses on the Confucian-based need of Chinese leaders to present themselves as the supreme moral rectifiers of the world order.

Shih outlines the diplomatic principles cherished by the Chinese—socialism, antihegemonism, peaceful coexistence, statism, and isolationism—and explores how each has been applied in the past forty years. He argues, for example, that China's policy toward the Soviet Union was aimed primarily at shaming the Soviets for their betrayal of socialism; its U.S. policy demonstrates China's anti-imperialist integrity; its Japan policy blames the Japanese for a failed Asiatic brotherhood; and its Third World policy is intended to be a model for emulation. The application of these principles has enabled Beijing always to find a moral niche in world affairs; the seeming contradiction among the principles has been ignored, because the need to clarify China's moral role outweighs other national interests.

This unusual perspective on China's foreign affairs also challenges the realist calculation of national interests, one couched purely in terms of military balance or economic development.


Chih-yu Shih is professor of political science at National Taiwan University. His numerous publications include The Spirit of Chinese Foreign Policy: A Psychocultural View and Symbolic War: The Chinese Use of Force 1940-1980 (coauthored).


  • Introduction.
  • A Normative-Cognitive Approach.
  • China's Quest for Justice.
  • Antagonistic Comradeship: China's Soviet Script.
  • Peaceful Struggle: China's U.S. Script.
  • Uneasy Neighbors: China's Japan Script.
  • Modeling in the UN: China's Third World Script.
  • Conclusion: The Fallible Moral Regime.