China as a Third World State: Foreign Policy and Official National Identity

IR Working Paper 1991/5

Author/s (editor/s):

Peter Van Ness

Publication year:


Publication type:

Working paper

Find this publication at:
IR Working Paper 1991/5

Peter Van Ness, ‘China as a Third World State: Foreign Policy and Official National Identity’, IR Working Paper 1991-5, Canberra: Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, October 1991.

This paper was originally written for a conference in January 1990 at Princeton University on Chinese national identity and PRC foreign policy, organised by Samuel Kim and Lowell Dittmer. The organisers provided a conceptual framework, which is briefly summarised here, and then assigned each of the participants a topic. Mine was: China as a Third World state. In effect, the question was: to what extent does the Chinese leadership identify China as Third World. My answer is that China in many respects (culture, history, relative poverty, etc.) is objectively ‘Third World’, and certainly the PRC leadership has often attempted to build political support among the states of Asia, Africa, and Latin America by invoking concepts of Third World solidarity in CCP propaganda; but in the final analysis, the leadership essentially views China as unique – Samuel Kim says, a group of its own (G1).

Updated:  2 February 2023/Responsible Officer:  Bell School Marketing Team/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team