China and the Sanctions Game

China’s Unilateral Sanctions
James Reilly
The Washington Quarterly
Fall 2012

While China has been a longtime critic of economic sanctions as a tool of statecraft, James Reilly at the University of Sydney thinks that in light of its own changing approach to international politics, Beijing perhaps protests overmuch. Now that China has built substantial economic wealth, it has begun using that wealth to influence or coerce other nations.

Reilly brings to light a new strain of thinking in China’s foreign policy establishment that eschews the “non-interference” and multilateralist doctrines of international relations. Given that many of these treasured guidelines are of considerable vintage (dating back to Zhou Enlai at the Bandung Conference in 1955), the new approaches have not been adopted quickly.

At the same time, the author provides a glimpse at a uniquely Chinese way of playing the sanctions game, often imposing the sanctions without declaring the. He also evaluates the effectiveness of unilateral sanctions imposed from Beijing, and while finding results to be wanting, he notes that China appears to be getting better at playing.