As is the case with other social science disciplines and sub-disciplines, the field of international relations (IR) is beginning to assume a scholarly identity in China today. In some respects the field is building upon a foundation laid prior to the Cultural Revolution (when in 1964 then-Premier Zhou Enlai ordered the establishment of several IR research institutes and academic training programs), but in a very real sense it is only now being established for the first time. China's current opening to the world has provided additional stimulus to the development of the field as China's leaders and bureaucrats seek policy-oriented analyses of foreign nations. The field is expanding rapidly. This study will assess the current state of the field and will evaluate the potential for and impediments to developing the discipline.
Defining the Discipline
Various complex problems arise in trying to define the scope of the discipline of international relations in the Chinese context. Perhaps the biggest problem is that Chinese IR scholars and specialists have not themselves clearly delineated the parameters of their field. International relations therefore does not yet have a distinct identity as a discipline despite an increasingly strong institutional base of scholarship and analysis.