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A nation must think before it acts.
European Council on Foreign Relations
Do China’s leaders have a strategy for the long-term direction of their country? For a while now Chinese thinkers have been discussing this very question, even speaking about the parameters of an all-encompassing “grand strategy” (大战略 da zhanlue) for China.
As early as 2011, one of China’s leading thinkers, Wang Jisi, Dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University, wrote that any country’s grand strategy must, at the very least, answer what the nation’s core interests are, what external forces pose a threat, and how the leadership can safeguard its interests. Wang, however, also noted that: “Whether China has any such strategy today is open to debate” and that “(…) the Chinese government has yet to disclose any document that comprehensively expounds the country’s strategic goals and the ways to achieve them.”
The discussion has evolved since then, and as of today the Chinese debate on what a “grand strategy” should look like has produced policy directives, statements, and theories but so far no authoritative formula has been communicated from the very top. This is what makes the ongoing discussion so interesting.