China’s Rising Foreign Ministry
Practices and representations
of assertive diplomacy
Dylan MH Loh

China’s rise and its importance to international relations is well recognized. Yet, in the literature, little is known about China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), its diplomats and the significant representational role it plays in China’s international affairs. Moreover, MOFA’s significance is traditionally downplayed even as China’s diplomacy becomes discernibly assertive in the Xi Jinping era. Who ‘produces’ Chinese assertiveness and how is this represented in China’s international affairs? How do others perceive Chinese diplomatic practices and what are the effects of these perceptions? The book argues that MOFA is a central supplier of the ‘assertive’ motif – challenging notions of a weak institution that have little influence on policy making.

Contrarily, the book finds a suite of compelling capacities that MOFA and its diplomats uniquely possess to exercise influence. China’s Rising Foreign Ministry suggests Beijing’s increasingly assertive foreign policy must be seen through MOFA’s heightened representational role. It alerts readers to the increasingly consequential role of MOFA in contemporary China’s foreign policy.

This book is published by Stanford University Press in their ‘Studies Asian Security’ series and is available for sale in April 2024.

Praise for China’s Rising Foreign Ministry

“Dylan M.H Loh persuasively argues against traditional state-centric understandings of China’s rise and its place in the international system, calling attention to the marked growth in budget and influence of its Ministry of Foreign Affairs in ways that are suitable to both Chinese public opinion and to the country’s top leadership.”

June Teufel Dreyer, University of Miami

“This remarkable book not only reveals the inner workings of the Chinese Foreign Ministry but demonstrates the profound significance of practice theory in unraveling the complex web of social dynamics that have propelled China towards becoming an assertive global power. Dylan M.H Loh convincingly shows that to understand China’s ascent, one cannot overlook the diplomats whose everyday activities embody a rising China.”

—Rebecca Adler-Nissen, University of Copenhagen

“Dylan M.H Loh’s historically in-depth and up-to-date case study provides a unique institutional perspective to explain China’s increasingly assertive foreign policy. A timely addition to the scholarship of China’s international behavior, this book is strongly recommended for those who want to learn about Chinese foreign policy and foreign relations as well as contemporary international geopolitics.”

—Suisheng Zhao, University of Denver

Book reviews & Interviews
  1. China’s Rising Foreign Ministry provides a rich, readable assessment of China’s evolving diplomacy in Southeast Asia and beyond. The book goes beyond blanket characterizations like “assertiveness” and examines the lived experience of diplomacy through dozens of interviews with Chinese diplomats and Asian practitioners as well as data-driven cataloging of Beijing’s behavior from 2009″ – ASEANWonk (paywalled)
  2. Book interview with Politico’s China Watcher:
    Question: What is the most important takeaway from your book?
    Answer: The importance and influence of China’s diplomats and its foreign ministry has increased both externally and internally under Xi Jinping. It actually has some autonomy to influence policy. It cannot act in a way that is not aligned with top leaders’ wishes but beyond this, the foreign ministry has a number of surprising tools that enable diplomats to sanction, cajole and/or arm-twist other countries.

Order the book

You can purchase the book online:

About the author

Dr Dylan M.H Loh (骆明辉) is an assistant professor at the public policy and global affairs programme, at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. He received his PhD at the University of Cambridge. His research interests focuses on Chinese foreign policy, ASEAN regionalism, and the practices of international diplomacy. He has published in these areas at journals such as International Affairs, Cooperation & Conflict, China Quarterly, Australian Journal of International Affairs, Global Studies Quarterly, International Relations of Asia-Pacific and International Studies Review among others.

Dylan is working on his second book project which focuses on the politics and practices of China’s discourse power (huayu quan/话语权). Find out more about Dylan and his research at

© 2023 China’s Rising Foreign Ministry. Theme by Anders Norén