By Moritz Rudolf
On June 28, China’s national legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, adopted the Foreign Relations Law [对外关系法]. It went into force on July 1, 2023.
The Law underlines two important trends: China’s increasing global outreach and its willingness to embed this global outreach within a legal framework.
As a framework law, it restates China’s long-standing foreign policy positions and codifies its foreign policy praxis. It also highlights new priorities such as the recently launched Global Security Initiative [全球安全倡议], Global Development Initiative [全球发展倡议], and Global Civilization Initiative [全球文明倡议]. While it clarifies many aspects of the function and vision of China’s foreign policy apparatus, it also creates significant legal uncertainty, especially with regards to the application and implementation of international treaties. This is particularly relevant given the deterioration of U.S.-China relations and the renewed prioritization of “struggle” [斗争] in the PRC’s foreign policy vocabulary and as a new key element of Xi Jinping Thought.
The Law outlines China’s foreign policy framework and goals in 45 articles spanning six chapters, which I discuss in turn below.Continue reading “China’s Foreign Relations Law: Balancing “Struggle” with Beijing’s “Responsible Great Power” Narrative”