How State Transformation is Shaping China’s
Lee Jones and Shahar Hameiri
Cambridge University Press, 2021
Is China’s rise a threat to international order? Fractured China shows
that it depends on what one means by “China”, for China is not the
monolithic, unitary actor that many assume. Forty years of state
transformation – the fragmentation, decentralisation and
internationalisation of party-state apparatuses – have profoundly
changed how its foreign policy is made and implemented. Today,
Chinese behaviour abroad is often not the product of a coherent grand
strategy, but results from a sometimes-chaotic struggle for power and
resources among contending politico-business interests, within a
surprisingly permissive Chinese-style regulatory state.
Presenting a path-breaking new analytical framework, Fractured China
transforms the central debate in International Relations and provides
new tools for scholars and policymakers seeking to understand and
respond to twenty-first century rising powers. Drawing on extensive
fieldwork in China and Southeast Asia, it includes three major case
studies – the South China Sea, non-traditional security cooperation, and
development financing–to demonstrate the framework’s explanatory
Advances a novel state transformation framework for explaining
the dynamics and outcomes of China’s rise
Includes in-depth, fieldwork-based analyses of policy formation
and outcomes in several Southeast Asian states
Provides three detailed case studies of key policy domains: the
South China Sea, non-traditional security, and development
1. State transformation and Chinese foreign policy
2. State transformation and the South China Sea
3. Chinese non-traditional security governance in the greater Mekong
4. China's International development financing
This exemplary work provides fabulous analyses on China’s behaviours in international security and financial
engagements. It should be a must-read for anyone who wants to gain more insights into the inner workings of China's
foreign policy making and the impacts on China's partners and rivals.
– Li Mingjiang, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
This book is a long overdue and convincing corrective to recent studies of China's rise that assume a coherent grand
design by an all-powerful Chinese state, which would inevitably lead it to the trap of conflict or the temptation of world
domination, or both. The reality, as Fractured China argues, is that China is no unitary actor and messy politics and
competing domestic interests shape its foreign policy behaviour, whether in the long or short term. An outstanding
– Amitav Acharya, American University, Washington DC, and Author of The End of American World Order (2018)
In this provocative new book, Jones and Hameiri break open the black box of the state to understand China's foreign
policy in both traditional and nontraditional spheres. Building on the idea of China as a regulatory state – which
highlights the fragmentation and decentralization of relevant actors – they show that the policymaking process is much
more complex than commonly believed.
– M. Taylor Fravel, Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
… a must-read contribution to the study of how China’s domestic politics affect its foreign policy… This is not only an
important academic contribution but also closely relevant to contemporary debates on China’s attitudes towards the
current international order… Jones and Hameiri deserve high praise for their innovative theoretical framework…
Fractured China also has significant policy implications, and deserves careful reading by all those interested in
Chinese foreign policies.
– Chenchao Lian, University of Oxford, e-IR, 12 April 2022
… offer[s] an alternative approach to understanding Chinese foreign policy by developing a theoretical framework
which can help explain “inconsistent behaviour in China's foreign and security policymaking and implementation”…
shapes an important agenda for further work.
– Tim Summers, Chinese University of Hong Kong, The China Quarterly, 12 January 2023
[R]efreshing and compelling... adds a much-needed analytical lens to the studies of Chinese foreign policy and
international politics in general.
– Yan Sun, City University of New York, New and Renewed Approaches to Understanding Chinese Politics,
Perspectives on Politics 21(1), 2023.
[F]ascinating... powerful... a breath of fresh air, providing rich empirical data and analytical sophistication.
– Jane Hayward, Kings College London, Xi is Not Emperor of All He Surveys, Critical Asian Studies, 21 May 2023