On the Change of China’s Identity, Interests and Behavior in Its Climate Diplomacy From 1999 to 2014

Wenrui YANG, Wei WANG


According to the constructivist international relations theory, the social structure of international politics not only influences an agent’s behavior, but more importantly constructs its identities and interests. Are there any change happened to China’s national identity, interests and behavior after its participation in the global course on tackling climate change? If so, what are these changes? This article uses content analysis to examine the identity and interests change in China’s climate diplomatic discourse from 1999 to 2014 and analyses the data related to China’s action on curbing climate change in the same period. After analyzing, this article finds out that there is a gradual change of China’s identity: From a developing country sharing “common but differentiated responsibilities” to a major developing country that is willing to take responsibilities proactively under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”. As for its national interests, it finds that China’s national interests change in three aspects, namely, level of importance, nature and identities of developed and developing countries in its national interests network. It also finds the change in China’s behavior: China’s carbon intensity per unit of GDP rises slightly during the 1999-2005 period, but it decreases year by year after 2005, which demonstrates China’s fulfillment of its commitment to the world. It is argued that there is a process of inter-constructive practices among China’s identity, interests and behavior.
This article analyzes the change of national identity in the speeches of China’s leaders and relevant ministries in international conferences on climate change and China’s Action Reports and White Papers on tackling climate change (1999-2014). Then it analyzes China’s national interest and behavior concerning climate change in the same period and the relations among the three, namely identity, interest and behavior of China. This article adopts a content analyzes of these speeches and reports (1999-2014) to depict China’s national identity change. Then it analyzes the discourse related to China’s national interests in these materials. Next, it analyzes China’s behavior in tackling climate change by looking at the data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration and PBL in the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. After that, it analyzes the relation among China’s identity, interests and behavior through a comparative study of the three.


Identity; Interests; Behavior; China; Climate diplomacy

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/n


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