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  • Yan Xuetong (阎学通)
    Born : December , 1952Gender : Male

Professor, Dean of the Institute of International Relations, Tsinghua University.

President, Carnegie–Tsinghua Management Board, Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy.


· Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley; May 1992, Political Science.

· M.A. Institute of International Relations, Beijing; June 1986, International Politics.

· B.A. Heilongjiang University, Harbin, China; January 1982, English.


In 2008, he was named as one of world's Top 100 public intellectuals by the American journal Foreign Policy. He is the only political scientist listed as Most Cited Chinese Researchers by Elsevier during 2014-2017.

· TSINGHUA UNIVERSITY, Distinguished Professor, 2017 till now

· WORLD PEACE FORUM, Secretary General, 2012 till now


· SCIENCE OF INTERNATIONAL POLITICS, Chief Editor, 2005 till now



Research Professor, 1995

Deputy Director, Department of World Political Studies, 1993

Associate Research Professor, 1992

Assistant Research Professor, 1988

Research Assistant, 1982

· UNIVERSITY OF NATIONAL DEFENSE, Adjunct Professor 2003-2011

· JINAN UNIVERSITY, Adjunct Professor 1999-2001


· GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, Research Fellow, Spring 1995

· UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY, Research Fellow, Summer 1994

· PEKING UNIVERSITY, Adjunct Professor, 1993-1996



· Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power won the 2014 Beijing Academic Prize (Second Class).

· China’s Foreign Relations with Major Powers 1950-2005 won the 2013 China High Education Prize.

· Analysis of International Relations won the 2008 China National Elite Class Prize.

· Practical Methods of International Studies was authorized as text book by the Chinese Education Ministry in 2007.

· Analysis of China’s National Interests won the 1998 China Book Prize.

Notable Works|Publications


· Moral Realism and Strategy for China’s Rise (Social Science Academic Press, 2018)

· Beyond Keeping a Low Profile (Tianjin People Press, 2016)

· Shift of World Power: Political Leadership and Strategic Competition (Beijing University Press, 2015)

· China’s Relations with Surrounding Lesser States (Social Science Academic Press, 2015)

· Inertia of History: China and the World in Next 10 Years (China CITIC Press, 2013)

· Analysis of International Relations-Second Edition (Peking University Press, 2013)

· Toward a Stable Global System (Social Science Academic Press, 2012)

· Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power (Princeton University Press, 2011)

· China’s Foreign Relations with Major Powers 1950-2005 (High Education Press, 2010)

· Strategic Thinking about China’s Rise (Hunan People Press, 2010)

· Thoughts of World Leadership and Implications (Shijie Zhishi Press, 2009) Analysis of International Relations (Peking University Press, 2008) T

· The Rise of China and Its Strategy (Peking University Press, 2005)

· International Politics and China (Peking University Press, 2005)

· Practical Methods of International Studies (People Press, 2001)

· American Hegemony and China’s Security (Tianjin People Press, 2000)

· Analysis of China’s National Interests (Tianjin People Press, 1996)


· Thoughts of World Leadership and Implications (World Affairs Press, 2009)

· Pre-Qin Chinese Thoughts on Foreign Relations (Fudan University Press, 2008)

· Calculation of International Circumstances and Taiwan Issue (Peking University Press, 2005)

· Peace and Security in East Asia (Peking University Press, 2005)

· Security Cooperation in East Asia (Peking University Press, 2004)

· China & Asia-Pacific Security (Shishi Press, 1999)

· International Environment for China’s Rise (Tianjin People Press,1998)


· Contending Theories of International Relations –Fifth Edition (World Affairs Press, 2003)

English Articles

· “Chinese Values vs Liberalism: What Ideology Will Shape the International Normative Order?”, The Chinese Journal of International Politics, Vol.11, No.1, Spring 2018.

· “Trump Can't Start a Cold War with China, Even if He Wants To”, The Washington Post, February 6, 2018.

· “Moral Realism and the Security Strategy for Rising China”, International Security Studies, Vol.3, No.2, Winter 2017.

· “China Can Thrive in the Trump Era”, The New York Times,January 24, 2017.

· “Political Leadership and Power Distribution”, Chinese Journal of International Politics, Vol.9, No.1, Spring 2016.

· “Competition for Strategic Partners”, China-US Focus Digest, Vol.8, October 2015.

· “A Bipolar World Is More Likely”, China-US Focus Digest, Vol.6, April 2015.

· “Diplomacy Should Focus on Neighbors”, China Daily, January 27, 2015, p. 8.

· “From Keeping a Low Profile to Striving to Achievement”, Chinese Journal of International Politics, Vol.7, No.2, Spring 2014.

· “The Bipolarization in East Asia”, Journal of Indian Research, Vol.2, No.1, Jan-Mar. 2014.

· “Let’s Not Be Friends”, Foreign Policy, June 7, 2013.

· “The Shift of the World Centre and its Impact on the Change of the International System”, East Asia: An International Quarterly, Vol. 30. No. 3, Sep. 2013.

· “Strategic Cooperation without Mutual Trust: A Path Forward for China and the US”, Asian Policy, No.15, January 2013.

· “New Values for New International Norms”, China International Studies, Vol.38, No.1, Jan/Feb 2013.

· “The Problem of Mutual Trust”, The International Herald Tribune, Nov. 15, 2012.

· “The Weakening of Unipolar Configuration”, China 3.0, Ed. Mark Leonard, (London: European Council on Foreign Relations, 2012).

· “World Peace Forum’s Responsibilities for International Security”, Foreign Affairs Journal, Autumn 2012.

· “Football Game Rather Than Boxing Match: China-US Intensifying Rivalry Does not Amount to Cold War”, The Chinese Journal of International Politics, Vol.5 No.2, Autumn 2012.

· “How China Can Defeat America”, The New York Times, Nov. 21, 2011.

· “International Leadership and Norm Evolution”, The Chinese Journal of International Politics, Vol.4 No.3, Autumn 2011.

· “How Assertive Should a Great Power Be?”, The Ney York Times, March 31, 2011.

· “The Sources of Chinese Conduct”, Project Syndicate, March 28, 2011.

· “The Instability of China-US Relations”, The Chinese Journal of International Politics, Vol.3 No.3, Autumn 2010.

· “Sino-U.S. Comparisons of Soft Power”, Contemporary International Relations, Vol. 18 No.2, Mar/Apr, 2008.

· “Xun Zi’s Thoughts on International Politics and Their Implications”, The Chinese Journal of International Politics, Vo.2, No.1, Summer 2008.

· “The Rise of China and its Power Status”, The Chinese Journal of International Politics, Vo.1, No.1, Summer 2006.

· “An East Asian Security Community”, Foreign Affairs Journal, No.17, March 2004.

· “Defining Peace”, The Korean Journal of Defense Analysis, Spring 2004.

· “Decade of Peace in East Asia”, East Asia: An International Quarterly, No.4, Winter 2003.

· “Prioritizing National Security”, China Daily, March 1–2, 2003.

· “Political, Economic Ties on Different Paths”, China Daily, January 27, 2003.

Main Opnions

1. China's national interests

An Analysis of China's National Interests, published in 1997, the first book related to China's national interests. Yan examines the concept of national interest itself as well as what strategies China could adopt to help it pursue its goals. This book provides a detailed analysis of China's national interests across a variety of different areas, including the international economy, security, politics, culture and many more. Two factors determine the importance of national interests; priority and volume. The basic order of priority of national interests is: national survival, political recognition, economic welfare, leadership position, and world contribution.

The Chinese version of his book was translated into passable English by Meng Jun. Monte R. Bullard then edited the translation, using the original as a guide, and developed a more understandable translation. The book was then edited in a final stage by Yan Xuetong. It was never published in English until now.

The book provides an excellent insight into Chinese foreign policy thinking by someone whose Western education helped to inform his thinking. He is now considered one of the most influential scholars in China and his book is used as a textbook in institutions of higher learning. The book should also be used as a textbook in any Western course on Chinese Foreign Policy.

2. Moral Realism Theory

The main goal of the theory and related research questions is to provide an alternative explanation of China's rise and the future of the world order. The key concepts of the theory presented in different publications of Yan Xuetong: morality, political strength, power, types of leadership and types of major power. The key concept of the theory is morality, which is borrowed from the ancient Chinese philosophy. Moral behaviour in domestic and international politics increases strength and comprehensive power of a state on the international arena, while moral qualities of the major power shape the world order and determine international stability. Yan examined practical recommendations built upon the moral realism theory. From a scientific point of view, the theory is criticized for the lack of clear definitions, for contradictions and biases, but it is valuable because it reflects the thinking of major Chinese intellectuals.

In 2005 he started a research project, which aim was to enrich international relations with non-Western thought and historical experience. He analyzed Chinese classical texts from the Pre-Qin era and evaluated their applicability to the analysis of modern international relations. In 2014 he formulated the theory of moral realism, which combined main assumptions of realism with new concepts derived from the ancient Chinese thought.

3. Scientific research methodology and predictions

Both social science and natural science belong to the field of science. The commonality between the two lies in science, and the essence of science is that the views are logically consistent, testable, and predictable. Yan published works such as Practical Methods of International Relations Studies, Selected Cases of Practical Methods of International Relations Studies, Quantitative Prediction of Sino-Foreign Relations, and Historical Inertia. He successfully predicted Li Tenghui's open Taiwan independence policy in 1999, Chen Shuibian elected in 2000, and Chen Shuibian in 2004. Re-elected and Tsai Ing-wen elected in 2016.

Based on the principle of inertia, Yan predicted that by 2023, China would become a superpower, the world would form a bipolar pattern between China and the United States, Breixt would be done; Germany would be a leading role in Europe; Russia would lose the second place as major military country. As a regional power, Brazil would become the leading country in South America, India and China would have the big gap in nation strength.


Yan is a prominent advocate of using military force to reunify with Taiwan, penned an article in the Global Times in which he "apologizd" for his prediction of war before 2008. In the article, he assessed that th cross-Strait situation will be peaceful and stable through 2016, during which time there will be "no danger of military conflict." He argued that the precondition for the current reconciliation is mutual non-denial of sovereignty.

Furthermore, he wrote that as long as cross-Strait dialogue is maintained, U.S. arms sales to Taiwan would not disrupt relations between the Mainland and Taiwan--though this point, among others, is sharply rejected by the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office. In a subsequent meeting with PolOff, Yan said he has not changed his views, but is instead resigned to the fact that "Taiwan is no longer a security issue" and there is no longer any point in advocating the use of force.

Yan argued that Hu Jintao's policy of resolving differences and granting Taiwan international space will eventually lead to de jure independence for Taiwan or, at least, "two Chinas." The PRC will come up with "linguistic tricks" to paper over sovereignty disputes to give the leadership political cover for Taiwan's increased international participation, Yan remarked. He expressed concern that with the loss of focus on Taiwan as a military mission, China's military modernization will lose momentum and the People's Liberation Army will become "useless".

An editor that ran Yan's article was told that discussions of Taiwan policy, especially any effort to "define" the cross-Strait relationship, are not allowed. A Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) official condemned Yan's article and said that it does not have any official standing.


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