SummaryChina’s approach to the norms of appropriate behaviour among states is being scrutinised by academics and practitioners — and no more so than in the South China Sea dispute where China’s response to the regional set of diplomatic norms, the ASEAN Way, is controversial. This essay asks three questions: Is China changing its diplomatic practices towards ASEAN Way diplomatic norms and, if so, how and why? Examining the issue through the lens of diplomatic tactics, the essay argues that yes China is changing its diplomacy, by adopting a range of diplomatic tactics: originally acknowledging ASEAN Way norms; later challenging and manipulating them; and, throughout, adopting tactics with ambiguous meanings. China’s tactics change in response to its leaders’ evolving perceptions of China’s international and regional contexts and, in turn, China’s tactics impact the contexts. China’s diplomacy, in this case, is adaptive, multifaceted, context dependent and context-changing, reflecting diplomacy’s longue durée.
The Hague Journal of Diplomacy – Brill
Published: Jan 6, 2021