This seminar will explore the strategic and institutional dynamics of international relations in East Asian history when imperial China was the undisputed regional hegemon. Zhang Feng argues that China and its neighbours adopted a variety of grand strategies in their interactions, including instrumental hierarchy and expressive hierarchy in the case of China, and identification, deference, access, and exit in the case of its neighbours. The strategic patterns showed, importantly, that expressive rationality embodying Confucian relational affection and obligation was an essential, though not dominant, feature of regional relations. He also seeks to clarify the nature of the tribute system as a fundamental institution in regional politics.
About the Speaker
Zhang Feng is a Fellow in the Department of International Relations, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, the Australian National University. He received his PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and has previously taught at Tsinghua University in Beijing and Murdoch University in Perth. His research interests include Chinese foreign policy and strategy, Asia-Pacific international politics, and international relations theory. He is the author of Chinese Hegemony: Grand Strategy and International Institutions in East Asian History (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015). His articles have appeared in leading international relations journals including the Chinese Journal of International Politics, European Journal of International Relations, Review of International Studies, and Survival. His next two projects are a Chinese book on Chinese sea power and the maritime Silk Road policy and an English book on Chinese grand strategy under the Xi Jinping administration. He writes a weekly column on China’s international relations for thepaper.cn, a major current affairs media platform based in Shanghai. He is also a regular contributor to the Foreign Policy magazine based in Washington.
After the Seminar
To allow for informal discussion, the seminar will be followed by a dinner with the guest speaker at 6:15pm. The location of the restaurant will be announced at the seminar. All are welcome, though those who attend will need to pay for their own food and drinks. As reservations must be made at the restaurant, please RSVP by noon of the day before the seminar to email@example.com