Course Code

CHES3006 (CCSS3500)

Course Name

China’s Strategic and Diplomatic Cultures


Monday 10:30 am -13:15 pm


CKB 706B


Prof. Tim Summers

Teaching Assistant


Course Description

This course looks at the ways in which diplomacy and strategy have developed in the Chinese context. It examines Chinese strategic and diplomatic cultures through key historical texts, case studies, and debates about Chinese approaches to international politics in peace and war. A theme of the course will be the question of how history and culture are understood in the present and what this can tell us about contemporary China.

By the end of the course students should be able to discuss key ideas in Chinese approaches to strategy and diplomacy, with reference to specific texts and cases, and have enhanced their overall knowledge of China.

Course Outline

No class (4 Sept.)
Inauguration Ceremony for Undergraduates (TBC).

1. Introduction (11 Sept.)
Introduces the objectives of the course and some key concepts, issues and approaches to studying Chinese strategic and diplomatic cultures.

2. Culture and international politics (18 Sept.)
Examines academic debates about the role of culture in security studies and the study of international relations.

3. Chinese strategic culture: Realpolitik or Idealpolitik? (25 Sept.)
Gives an overview of secondary literature on Chinese strategic culture.

No class: public holiday for National Day (2 Oct.)

4. History as a strategic resource (9 Oct.)
Reviews historical concepts of Chinese World Order and their contemporary relevance.

Assignment 1, review essay, is due by 13 October.

5. Reading the Sunzi Art of War (16 Oct.)
Explores The Art of War and its contemporary interpretations.

No class: public holiday for Chung Yeung festival (23 Oct.)

Optional individual consultations will be arranged during the week of 23 Oct. for students to discuss their final papers.

6. Mao Zedong and strategic culture (30 Oct.)
Investigates some of the key ideas in Mao’s strategic thinking.

7. PRC strategic culture: the Korean War (6 Nov.)
Examines China’s approach during the Korean War (1950-1953) from the perspective of strategic culture.

8. PRC diplomatic culture: normalising US-China relations (13 Nov.)
Looks at the US-China negotiations in the 1970s as a case study in Chinese diplomatic culture.

9. Negotiating the return of Hong Kong (20 Nov.)
Reviews China’s approaches to the Sino-British negotiations over Hong Kong, especially in relation to the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration.

10. Negotiations and diplomatic cultures (optional additional discussion session – date & time TBC)
Continues discussions of the US-China and Hong Kong cases and discusses further ideas about Chinese diplomatic and negotiating culture.

11. A Chinese School of International Relations? (27 Nov.)
Reviews some recent work of Chinese scholars to explore contemporary Chinese thinking about International Relations and world order.

12. Conclusion: strategic and diplomatic culture in contemporary China (4 Dec., make-up week)
Concludes the course by discussing some current features of Chinese diplomacy and reviewing the key questions about Chinese strategic and diplomatic cultures.

Assignment 2, final paper, is due by 4 December.

Assessment & Assignments

1. A review essay of 2,000 words (minimum) (40%)

2. A final paper of at least 3,000 words (50%)

3. Active engagement throughout the course and participation in class discussion and other learning activities (10%)

Honesty in Academic Work

Students should familiarize themselves with University policy and regulations on honesty in academic work and the disciplinary guidelines and procedures applicable to breaches of such policy and regulations. Details are at With each assignment, students will be required to submit a signed declaration that they are aware of the policies, regulations and procedures.