China's Foreign Relations and the Survival of Autocracies
By Julia Bader
Routledge – 2015 – 222 pages
The Chinese government has frequently been criticized for propping up anti-democratic governments. This book investigates the rise of China as an emerging authoritarian power. By comparing China’s bilateral relations to three Asian developing countries – Burma, Cambodia and Mongolia – it examines how China targets specific groups of actors in autocracies versus non-autocracies. It illustrates how the Chinese non-interference policy translates into support for incumbent leaders in autocratic countries and how the Chinese government has thereby profited from exploiting secretive decision making in autocracies to realize its own external interests such as achieving access to natural resources. In a statistical analysis of the patterns of Chinese external cooperation and their impact on the survival of autocratic leaders, the book finds some evidence that China is more likely to target autocracies with economic cooperation. However, only some forms of bilateral interaction are found to increase the prospect of survival for autocratic leaders.
This important contribution to the understanding of both external factors of authoritarian endurance and China’s foreign relations, a field of study still lacking systematic investigation, will be of great interest to students and researchers in Development Studies, Asian Studies, International Relations, and International Political Economy.
Part 1: Supporting Dictators. If so, why and how? 1. What we Know and why we Know so Little 2. Why Autocracies should have an Interest in the Prevalence of Authoritarianism Part 2: External Exploitation: who, how and when? 3. How external exploitation materializes 4. Burma: Neither puppet, nor pawn 5. Cambodia: Rocking in China’s soft underbelly 6. Mongolia: Between a rock and a hard place 7. Does China realize its interests? Part 3: Autocratic cooperation? Patterns and consequences 8. Does China target other autocrats? 9. Do China’s foreign relations lead to autocratic survival? Part 4: So what? Findings, reflections and conclusions 10. Conclusion
Julia Bader is an Assistant Professor for International Relations at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands and an Associate Fellow of the German Development Institute (DIE). Her work focuses on the political economy of authoritarian regimes, foreign aid and democracy promotion.