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‘Great Power Style’ in China’s Economic Diplomacy: Filling the Shoes of a Benign Hegemon?

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China’s ascendance attracts concern, even though Beijing claims to be a responsible great power and tries to demonstrate its ‘great power style’ in economic diplomacy. This article therefore discusses the following questions: to what extent does the current notion and practice of Chinese ‘great power style’ in economic diplomacy comply with, or differ from, the criteria of benign hegemony; and what are the major constraining factors? Conceptually, China’s ‘great power style’ is rooted in ancient Chinese political philosophy and institution, but it highly resembles the Western notion of benign hegemony. Empirically, China has started to provide more public goods in trade, finance and aid, and it seeks voting powers at international institutions. However, it is still far from being a benign hegemon because of its level of development, domestic political constraints, and tension between political and economic interests.

Affiliations: 1: Asia Research Centre, Copenhagen Business School Dalgas Have 15 DK 2000 Frederiksberg Denmark, Email:


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