China's Foreign Relations and the Survival of Autocracies: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

China's Foreign Relations and the Survival of Autocracies

1st Edition

By Julia Bader


222 pages

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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.


"China has long asserted that in its foreign policy, it follows a policy of non-interference in other countries' domestic politics. Bader (Univ. of Amsterdam) examines that claim and finds "some evidence" that China is more likely to target autocracies for economic cooperation than more democratic countries. Her analysis moves from a broad general analysis of Chinese foreign relations to three intensive case studies: Burma, Cambodia, and Mongolia. In her carefully argued conclusion, she posits three hypotheses for further exploration: China is more successful in realizing its foreign policy interests with autocratic countries, China targets such countries for economic collaboration, and autocratic leaders of these countries reap significantly more benefit from the relationship than the populaces of those countries do. Written for academic audiences, the work belongs in large university libraries with significant East Asian holdings. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate, research, and professional collections."CHOICE, J. A. Rhodes, emeritus, Luther College

Table of Contents

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

About the Author

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.

About the Series

Routledge Explorations in Development Studies

The series features innovative and original research at the regional and global scale. Its scope extends to scholarly works that take an interdisciplinary and comparative approach.

In terms of theory and method, rather than basing itself on any one orthodoxy, the series draws broadly on the tool kit of the social sciences in general, emphasizing comparison, the analysis of the structure and processes, and the application of qualitative and quantitative methods.

The series welcomes submissions from established authors in the field as well as from junior authors. To submit proposals, please contact the Development Studies Editor, Helena Hurd (

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Economic Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Environmental Economics
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy