“Saving Face” (面子 mianzi) and China’s Foreign Relations: A Case Study of the West Philippine Sea Dispute and the Response of the Benigno Aquino III Administration

Giulia Hannele L. Go

Abstract

This paper aims to understand the impact of the behavior of “saving face” and how it has motivated China’s responsive measures in foreign relations. Considering the behavior of China, through the lens of Confucianism, this paper analyzes the public castigation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) by the Philippines under the administration of Benigno Aquino III regarding the South China Sea. The instance was said to have triggered China’s assertiveness and made their presence more permanent by reinforcing their structures in said disputed area. China’s behavior of “saving face” and other related events to the South China Sea (SCS) dispute with similarly arrogant responses will also be looked into. Hoping it may provide a more in-depth understanding and alternative view of Chinese foreign policy that can help external foreign bodies navigate their way better when it comes to dialogue and negotiations with the People’s Republic of China.

Keywords

China Foreign Policy; saving face (面子 mianzi); Confucianism

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