Assessing China’s Economic and Political Power Play

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2022

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Abstract

How effectively has China utilized its economic power to gain political support worldwide? This paper aims to answer this question, which is vital to understanding the new dynamics of the international order, through a more appropriate quantitative analysis. To this end, it first discusses why the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Voting Data, which is commonly used to measure a country's foreign policy alignment, is a relatively ineffective method. Thereafter, it proposes a new set of measurements that better represent China's core political intentions under its overseas economic efforts: other countries' support for China's sovereign standing and China-built new international institutions. I also argue that different types of economic interactions may influence other countries' political support for China in varying patterns. By creating novel datasets to measure other countries' alignment with China on Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), I find that China has partly translated its economic power into its global political influence with different mechanisms. First, countries that receive more aid from China are more inclined to align with China's sovereign standings. Second, countries that trade more with China are more likely to show explicit political support for China-built new institutions. These findings advance our understanding of China's economic power and the complex interaction between global politics and economy.

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Wang, Yuelin (2022). Assessing China’s Economic and Political Power Play. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/26887.

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