China's ‘new type of Great Power relations’: a G2 with Chinese characteristics?

Jinghan Zeng, Shaun Breslin

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The rise of China has been reshaping how the country sees its own role in the world. China has become increasingly willing to move from being a norm and system taker to a norm and system shaper (if not yet maker). One example is Xi Jinping's promotion of ‘a new type of Great Power relations’ designed to create a strategic space in which to operate. By using a mixed quantitative/qualitative analysis, we analyse 141 Chinese articles titled with ‘new type of Great Power relations’. We find that although Chinese analysts and policy makers rejected the idea of a G2 in 2009, the mainstream discourse has rapidly shifted to what we call a ‘G2 with Chinese characteristics’ which indicates a fundamental shift in Chinese evaluation of the power status of itself and others. While some Chinese scholars consider China to have already achieved the status as the world's No. 2 or even a superpower, the mainstream discourse views China as both a Great Power and a rising power at the same time. This, we argue, moderates the expectations of what China can and should do to resolve global problems despite its great power status.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)773-794
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Affairs
Issue number4
Early online date20 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016

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