COURSE: Chinese Foreign Policy

Course content

This graduate seminar examines the main theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of Chinese foreign policy. We seek to understand the factors that influence Chinese foreign policy, including security, organizations, culture and perception. We analyze decision-making processes that have an impact on Chinese foreign policy, China’s relations with various countries and regions as well as how the rise of China affects global power relations. Whereas the first part of the course introduces more general elements in Chinese foreign policy, the second part of the course will focus specifically on China’s energy policy, the activities of the Chinese energy companies and their impact on Chinese foreign policy. The readings will cover a range of materials designed to familiarize students with the literature on Chinese foreign policy.    


The course is expected to be structured in the following way:

1: Introduction and Course Overview

2: Chinese foreign policy

3: Organizations and Institutions

4: Public Opinion

5: The Military and Conflict Behavior

6: Participation in International Institutions

7: Chinese energy policy in the last decade

8: China’s energy governance I: the Chinese energy administration

9:  China’s energy governance II: and the role of energy companies in Chinese foreign policy

10: Case study: the cases of Nigeria, Angola, Sudan and Tunisia

11: Feedback

12: Conclusion: China’s “Rise” and Change and Continuity in China’s Foreign Policy 


Bachelorlevel: 10 ECTS

Masterlevel: 7,5 ECTS

Learning outcome

Knowledge and understanding

Students will gain insights into the development and main characteristics of Chinese foreign policy in recent years. Students will be able to present and reflect on the main arguments in the academic literature on China’s foreign policy and to assess the strengths and weaknesses of different theories and methodologies.



Students will be able to analyze specific cases and be able to discuss and analyze Chinese foreign policy through the lens of different theories and methodologies.



This course equips the student to understand current Chinese foreign policy and enhances the students’ ability to understand important questions within the realm of international relations. The course is relevant to students who aim for a career in, for example, international organizations, diplomacy and global companies.

The course form will be a mixture of lectures and discussions in plenum. To stimulate discussion, students will be assigned as discussants each week. Guest speakers will be invited and an active webpage will be maintained

Several parts of the following books:

* Alden, Chris (2007): China in Africa. African Arguments, Zed Books, London.

 * Goldstein, Avery (2005): Rising to the Challenge: China’s Grand Strategy and International Security, Stanford University press, Stanford.

 * Johnston, Alastair Iain and Robert Ross (eds.) (2006): New Directions in the Study of China’s Foreign Policy, Stanford University Press, Stanford.


A complete reading list will be available at the start of the semester.


Recommended readings if no background in Chinese history and politics:
• Lieberthal, Kenneth (2004): Governing China, second edition, Norton, New York.
• Nathan, Andrew and Robert Ross (eds.) (1997): The Great Wall and the Empty Fortress. China’s search for security, Norton, New York.

The students are expected to have knowledge and understanding of theoretical insights and approaches from International Relations.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assessment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28