Past Event

'The Construction of China’s National Interest between top-down rule and societal debate' - with C&WP fellow Sabine Mokry

November 27, 2023
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Event time is displayed in your time zone.

The return of strongmen politics exemplified by Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin has led many to question whether societal actors can influence the foreign policy of authoritarian regimes. Nevertheless, despite tightening authoritarian rule, there are vibrant societal debates about foreign policy in China. Scholars have identified societal actors capable of influencing China’s foreign policy. Some have even uncovered channels through which these actors can exert influence. However, the conditions under which Chinese societal actors shape China’s foreign policy are yet to be fully uncovered. The fact that there is no perfect transmission belt between official and societal constructions of China’s national interest makes considering the intervening effect of domestic structures necessary. Focusing on foreign policy experts working at Chinese think tanks and Chinese International Relations scholars, Sabine Mokry demonstrates how societal actors’ proximity to the state and the state’s openness to societal input facilitate and constrain societal actors’ influence on the construction of China’s national interest. Through close observation of changes in political institutions and state-society relations under Xi Jinping, she details how the state’s openness to societal input changed over time and in what ways it differed for think tanks and scholars. The talk is based on Sabine Mokry’s current book project, whose insights will allow us to reexamine Chinese societal actors’ influence on China’s foreign policy.

Sabine Mokry is a CWP fellow for the 2023-2024 academic year. She is a PhD candidate at Leiden University’s Political Science Department and an associate researcher at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) in Hamburg. In her dissertation, she investigated under what conditions Chinese social actors, specifically think tankers and scholars influence the construction of China’s national interest. Before pursuing her PhD, she worked at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) as a research associate focusing on China’s foreign and security policy. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Contemporary China, Foreign Policy Analysis, The Pacific Review and International Politics. 

This event is a hybrid with both in-person attendees and an online audience. It is sponsored by the China and the World Program and co-sponsored by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute. To register for the online event please register here or If you are attending in-person, please go to 'INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS BUILDING AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY - 420 W. 118TH ST., NEW YORK, NY 10027 ROOM 918' 

Sabine Mokry