Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Papers Examine China’s New Proactive Foreign Policy
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Papers Examine China’s New Proactive Foreign Policy

Washington, D.C. — When Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Washington, D.C., later this week, he and President Barack Obama are expected to tackle pressing issues ranging from cybersecurity to climate change. Under President Xi’s leadership, China has abandoned the Deng Xiaoping “hide your strength, bide your time” strategy and is now pursuing a more proactive foreign policy approach that aims to shape the international landscape in ways that support Chinese interests.

China’s new lean-in approach to foreign policy poses a mix of opportunities and headaches for the United States. On the one hand, Beijing is increasingly willing to throw its weight into addressing common challenges such as climate change and denuclearization. On the other hand, some of China’s new proactive moves appear to undermine U.S. interests, most notably on cybersecurity, maritime security, and China market access.

The biggest impact of China’s new proactive stance could be in the financial realm. China is launching two major new initiatives that will reshape investment patterns across Asia: the Belt and Road initiative and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, or AIIB. The Belt and Road initiative aims to bolster trade and economic development throughout Asia, Europe, and North Africa, while the AIIB is a global financial institution designed to invest in infrastructure projects in Asia that boasts more than 50 developed and developing nations as founding members. Today, CAP is releasing new briefs examining these initiatives and their potential impact on U.S. interests globally and regionally and to call on Washington for direct engagement with Beijing to encourage these new programs to develop in a positive direction.

“President Xi Jinping’s visit comes at a time when China is moving aggressively to shape the international environment on multiple fronts,” said Melanie Hart, CAP Director of China Policy. “On the financial front, the United States has a near-term opportunity to work collaboratively with China and push these new initiatives in a direction that works for both nations. The issues discussed in these papers are unlikely to be resolved when the two presidents meet this week. These are long-term, foundational challenges for the international order. While they will gain some short-term attention through this week’s summit, the hard work will come over the next several years as the United States and China seek positive areas of engagement and positive vision of global development.”

In an issue brief and an accompanying interactive, CAP experts explain the concept of the Belt and Road, its effect to date, and its impacts on the U.S. and global financial community. Another brief outlines the impact the AIIB and other new financial institutions will have on clean energy infrastructure investment, arguing that depending on how they are interpreted, loopholes in AIIB’s vague framework could either result in the proliferation of highly polluting coal plants, or ideally, they could serve as a catalyst for a race to the top on sustainable development lending standards. On both of these initiatives, the verdict is still out—it is not yet clear whether these new investment platforms will support or hinder U.S. and global objectives in the region.

In a third paper, CAP experts preview the U.S.-China presidential summit and look at a few of the issues that will likely dominate the agenda when President Xi visits the White House this Friday.

Read the papers:

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at [email protected] or 202.481.7141.