Mixed Signalling in China’s Foreign and Security Policy

Mixed Signalling in China’s Foreign and Security Policy

China’s emergence as a global power has led to confusion about its intentions as the country sends mixed signals. Beijing has been promoting its soft power for years and trying to maintain a positive international image, particularly with its neighbouring countries. However, China’s foreign policy has become increasingly assertive, a trend referred to as "wolf-warrior" diplomacy by some international media and analysts. This talk will explore Chinese foreign policy and its mixed signalling through the lens of international relations theories and Chinese studies literature. Three conceptual models will be discussed: the strategic interaction model, the domestic politics model, and the multiple audience model. While the domestic politics and multiple audience models can partially explain China's mixed signalling, the strategic interaction model provides a more comprehensive explanation for China's consistent behaviour across different policy domains and over time. The talk will compare China with other major powers, analysing their signalling strategies through empirical cases.

Xiaoyu Pu is an associate professor of political science at the University of Nevada. He is a member of the Public Intellectuals Program of the National Committee on United States-China Relations, and has received fellowships from the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington D.C., Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV) in Brazil, and the China and the World Program at Princeton University. He has authored the book Rebranding China: Contested Status Signaling in the Changing Global Order (Stanford University Press, 2019). His articles have been published in journals such as International Security, International Affairs, The China Quarterly, The Chinese Journal of International Politics, and The British Journal of Politics and International Relations.  He earned his PhD from Ohio State University. 

Date & time

Thu 30 May 2024, 11am–12.30pm


RSSS Room 3.72 or Online via Zoom


Associate professor Xiaoyu Pu (University of Nevada)


Richard Frank


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