Audrye Wong, Princeton University
Most analyses of Chinese foreign and security policies treat China as a unitary actor, assuming a cohesive grand strategy articulated by Beijing. Current research on the role of subnational actors has focused on how they shape Beijing’s domestic and economic policies. I challenge this conventional wisdom, showing how Chinese provinces can affect the formulation and implementation of foreign security policy. Using Hainan and Yunnan as case studies, I identify three mechanisms of provincial influence – trailblazing, resisting, and carpetbagging – and illustrate them with examples of key provincial policies. This suggests a more nuanced argument than is commonly found in international relations for the motivations behind evolving and increasingly activist Chinese foreign policy. It also has important policy implications for understanding and responding to Chinese behavior, in the South China Sea and beyond.
Audrye is a Ph.D. Candidate in Security Studies at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. Her research has also been funded by the Tobin Project and the Bradley Foundation. Audrye’s dissertation examines China’s strategies of economic statecraft and patterns of effectiveness across different target countries. Her other ongoing projects look at the role of subnational actors in foreign policy and asymmetrical alliance relationships, with a focus on East and Southeast Asia, where she has done extensive field research. Previously, Audrye was a Junior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, researching U.S.-China security interactions and crisis management.
Co-Sponsored by the Paul and Marcia Wythes Center on Contemporary China and the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program