Decoding the Vocabulary of Chinese Foreign Policy

April 11, 2023

The terminology of international relations is important to understand, but that task is challenging because shared definitions of key words do not always exist. China’s government and party-state actors, for example, often interpret terms in ways that differ from the American and European understanding of them. Chinese concepts of democracy, rule of law, and human rights are not those of the West. As Beijing seeks to inject its norms into the international order and lead global governance reform, knowing the differences is important.

To discuss these topics, Bonnie is joined by Malin Oud, director of the Stockholm office of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, where she also heads the institute’s China program. Oud has worked on human rights and sustainable development in China in various capacities for more than 20 years, and was based in Beijing from 2000 to 2009. Two years ago, Malin co-authored The Decoding China Dictionary. In early March, she co-edited the dictionary’s second edition, which includes 26 terms. It is an invaluable resource for understanding Chinese foreign and domestic policies .

Episode Highlights:

[01:39] Background of The Decoding China Dictionary

[04:30] Democracy with Chinese Characteristics

[06:34] Differing Interpretations of International Law

[08:32] Freedom of Religion Versus Freedom of Religious Belief

[10:28] Foreign Aid and China as a Developing Country

[12:01] Security in Chinese Parlance

[13:55] Transparency and its Uses in China

[16:19] Historic Revisionism and Domestic Policy

[18:39] Historic Revisionism and Foreign Policy

[19:44] Promotion of Chinese Interpretations Internationally

[23:52] Importance of Understanding Chinese Terminology