Does Promoting “Core Interests” Do China More Harm Than Good? | China File
By Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, North East Asia Project Director
It is not by accident that China has consistently informed U.S. officials that the South and East China Sea are part of its core interests. “Core interests” has become a key concept that it has consistently pushed in its relations with Washington. Beijing was emboldened in this effort when the U.S. agreed to the term’s inclusion in the November 2009 US-China Joint Statement (“the two sides agreed that respecting each other’s core interests is extremely important to ensure steady progress in China-U.S. relations”). Since then, the Chinese have regularly invoked the term, more recently along with its corollary, the “new type of great power relations” (see below). Beijing was only too happy to see the previous U.S. guiding principle for the relationship, “responsible stakeholder,” replaced by its own phrase. Despite Beijing’s initial mistrust for the concept—as it sees such external calls to contribute to the global public good as an attempt to slow its rise – it ended up accepting it. It was the U.S. that jettisoned it with the change of administration.