China needs to 'purchase' friendships, scholar says

BEIJING - China's foreign policy scholars generally fall into two camps: "realists" and "liberals." The former tend to prioritize national interests and power. The latter are more ideological. And under the government of President Xi Jinping, the realists are said to have gained influence.

A leading voice on the realist side is Yan Xuetong, dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University. He recently spoke with The Nikkei about Xi's diplomatic policies toward Japan, members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the US and the rest of the world.

Q: Last November, the Chinese Communist Party and the government convened the first Foreign Affairs Leading Group meeting in eight years. What brought that about?

A: This meeting is only held when there is a new policy. It is attended by central leaders as well as all the provincial party secretaries and governors. At this last meeting, Xi Jinping altered China's longstanding foreign policy, set by Deng Xiaoping.

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