Chinese Exceptionalism in International Relations

A China Studies Centre Distinguished Speaker lecture

14 March, 2012
Dr Feng Zhang

Although exceptionalism is an important dimension of China’s foreign policy, Dr Feng Zhang from Murdoch University argues, it has not been a subject of serious scholarly research. In this lecture, Dr Zhang attempts to examine the manifestations and sources of contemporary Chinese exceptionalism and explain its implications for foreign policy.

Chinese exceptionalism is defined by great power reformism, benevolent pacifism, and harmonious inclusionism. While resting on an important factual basis, it is constructed by mixing facts with myths through selective use of China’s vast historical and cultural experiences. Exceptionalism does not determine policy, but by being an essential part of the worldview of the Chinese government and many intellectuals, it can become an important source for policy ideas. It can be further seen as a normative theory for China’s foreign policy, as one among six major schools competing for ideational influence in China’s foreign policy formation

Feng Zhang

Feng Zhang is a Lecturer in the Politics and International Studies program of the School of Social Sciences and Humanities at Murdoch University. Feng works on China’s foreign relations and the international politics of East Asia, focusing on three related questions: historical East Asian politics and China’s central role in it, contemporary Chinese foreign policy especially with regard to policy ideas and grand strategy, and international relations theory from a Chinese perspective.