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China and Intervention at the UN Security Council:

Reconciling Status

courtney J. fung

OXFORD: OXFORD university press, 2019

What explains China’s response to intervention at the UN Security Council? I argue that status is an overlooked determinant in understanding its decisions, even in the apex cases that are shadowed by a public discourse calling for foreign-imposed regime change in Sudan, Libya, and Syria. The book posits that China reconciles its status dilemma as it weighs decisions to intervene: seeking recognition from both its intervention peer groups of great powers and developing states. Understanding the impact and scope conditions of status answers why China has taken certain positions regarding intervention and how these positions were justified. Foreign policy behavior that complies with status, and related social factors like self-image and identity, means that China can select policy options bearing material costs. China and Intervention at the UN Security Council offers a rich study of Chinese foreign policy, going beyond works available in breadth and in depth. It draws on an extensive collection of data, including over two hundred interviews with UN officials and Chinese foreign policy elites, participant observation at UN Headquarters and a dataset of Chinese-language analysis regarding foreign-imposed regime change and intervention.  The book concludes with new perspectives on the malleability of China’s core interests, insights about the application of status for cooperation, and the implications of the status dilemma for rising powers.  

Interview with Ms. Bonnie Glaser, CSIS ChinaPower Podcast Series
'China’s Evolving Role in the United Nations: A Conversation with Courtney Fung,' 19 June 2019



THOMAS J. CHRISTENSEN, Columbia University 

With this very fine book, Courtney Fung has established herself as the leading authority on China’s policies regarding humanitarian intervention by the United Nations. Reconciling Status is essential reading for anyone interested in international humanitarian crises, the United Nations, or the implications of China’s rise for world politics.

Rosemary foot, University of oxford 

Carefully argued, theoretically astute and empirically rich, this book provides crucial insights into the bounded variation of China’s positions at the UN Security Council on intervention. The author’s contributions are many, including how social influence works to mediate Chinese interests, and how process-tracing can effectively be applied in International Relations scholarship. This book is essential reading for all those interested in China’s UN behaviour. 

steve chan, University of colorado, boulder 

China’s attitudes toward United Nations interventions in situations of civil war and mass atrocities have evolved from skeptical opposition to conditional support. Comparing Beijing’s actions in cases involving Sudan, Libya and Syria, Courtney Fung makes a novel contribution to our understanding of Chinese foreign policy. She shows that under certain conditions, Beijing’s position on such interventions with a strong undertone of regime change can be influenced by international political opinion and consideration of China’s international status. This book should be on the shelves of all scholars interested in China’s increasing participation in multilateral diplomacy and its quest for status recognition, which can be a source for international cooperation rather than just competition as usually assumed in the current literature.