China's grand strategy under Xi Jinping is clearly distinctive. It does not, however, fundamentally break with the grand strategy that China has embraced since the early 1990s—one that aims to realize what is now labeled “the dream of national rejuvenation.” Leaders in Beijing have implemented three different approaches to this strategy. In 1992, the approach to rejuvenation followed Deng Xiaoping's admonition for China to hide its capabilities and bide its time. In 1996, Beijing shifted to a more proactive approach, peaceful rise, seeking to reassure others that a stronger and wealthier China would not pose a threat. In 2012, Xi again recast the grand strategy of rejuvenation to realize the Chinese dream. His approach is distinguished by its combination of three efforts: (1) continuing earlier attempts to reassure others about the benign intentions of rising China, (2) moving China from rhetoric to action in promoting reform of an international order that has facilitated China's rise, and (3) resisting challenges to what the Chinese Communist Party defines as the country's core interests. Xi's bolder approach has further clarified China's long-standing international aspirations and triggered reactions abroad that raise doubts about the prospects for his approach to realizing the goal of national rejuvenation.

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