Recent Chinese initiatives that imply a more proactive approach in foreign and defense policy are the product of ongoing debate in Beijing over how to define PRC national interests toward China’s periphery. Departing from Beijing’s approach during most of the reform era, they suggest a decreased emphasis on Deng Xiaoping’s longstanding exhortation for China to remain modest and maintain a low profile in its external relations. Among the many questions this raises for China’s external relations going forward, the most important is how Beijing will reconcile the contradictory policy imperatives of deepening positive relations with neighboring countries while more firmly advancing China’s territorial and resource interests and claims.
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