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Rebranding China: Contested Status Signaling in the Changing Global Order, Xiaoyu Pu

Reviewed by Evan S. Medeiros

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In the last decade, analyzing Chinese foreign policy has evolved from a cottage industry to a global business as China has expanded its international footprint. The ascension of Xi Jinping and his new and often assertive actions have further underscored the priority for political scientists (and especially Asia specialists) to apply new and better tools to understand China’s behavior. Xi’s China is difficult to characterize as a rising power. China is neither strictly revisionist nor staunchly status quo; it is a bit of both. Status is an important part of this equation because China projects at least two different identities: a strong rising power and a perennially challenged developing economy.

To understand this and other puzzles in the study of Chinese foreign policy, Xiaoyu Pu’s timely and important book on China’s use of “status signaling” is a welcome contribution. He argues that the origins, manifestations, and implications of “status signaling” need to be examined to better understand China’s external behavior. As distinct from assessments of material interests, Pu argues that “China’s status signaling shapes how China deals with many international issues” (p. 4). When and how China projects its preferred status reveals much about its current and future intentions.

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