Among the world’s great powers, China is one of those which arguably are most difficult to assess with regard to ultimate political intentions. The difficulties were voiced by the United States Ambassador to China, Gary Locke, who noted “that there is a concern, a question mark, by people all around the world and governments all around the world as to what China’s intentions are.” China’s top leadership seldom reveals its internal decision-making, nor its chosen strategies, so an outside observer has to resort to various analytical devices to assess China’s intentions. These include but are not limited to a thorough analysis of the country’s national interests (if known or deducible), political statements (“signals”), political, military, and economic power as well as infrastructure (“capabilities”), and political actions such as the state’s decision to enter into or withdraw from binding international institutions, significant investment decisions, and in extreme cases military intervention abroad (“behaviour”).

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