In this podcast, Carnegie-Tsinghua’s Paul Haenle interviews leading international security and China expert Professor M. Taylor Fravel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Fravel explains that China is primarily focused on enhancing naval capacity in the Asia-Pacific and lacks a coherent and coordinated maritime strategy. He notes that the Chinese leadership’s unprecedented October 24 work forum on peripheral diplomacy signaled a recognition that Beijing’s approach to regional diplomacy over the past decade had backfired. However, rather than introducing a new strategic approach, Fravel says President Xi Jinping and his team are looking to more effectively implement their existing policy of creating a stable external environment and establishing good relations with China’s neighbors.

Finally, Fravel offers his initial analysis of China’s new national security commission, announced at the third plenum of China’s 18th Party Congress in November. Fravel cautions that while it is still too early to know what the main responsibilities of this agency will be, he believes the commission will be tasked with the security of the Chinese Communist Party and the external dimensions of that threat, rather than coordinating foreign policy agencies and strategies.

M. Taylor Fravel

M. Taylor Fravel is an associate professor of Political Science and member of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Fravel is the author of Strong Borders, Secure Nation: Cooperation and Conflict in China’s Territorial Disputes, while his edited volumes include Rethinking China’s Rise: A Reader and China and East Asian Order: A Reader. He is currently completing a book-length study of major change in China’s military doctrine since 1949, entitled Active Defense: Explaining the Evolution of China’s Military Strategy

Paul Haenle

Paul Haenle is the director of the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center. Prior to joining Carnegie, he served from June 2007 to June 2009 as the director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolian Affairs on the National Security Council staffs of former president George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.