Foreign Policy Scholars Argued That Transnational Actors Influence the Contours of Any Country’s Foreign Policy. Discuss Keeping in Mind the Foreign Policy of China


CSS Solved International Relations Past Papers | Foreign Policy Scholars Argued That Transnational Actors Influence the Contours of Any Country’s Foreign Policy. Discuss Keeping in Mind the Foreign Policy of China

Ammara Bakht, the highest scorer in the CSS IR paper, attempts the following question. The question is attempted in the same way that Miss Abeera Fatima, the top IR scorer, has been attempting. Moreover, the answer is written on the same pattern, taught by Sir to his students, scoring the highest marks in compulsory subjects for years. This solved past paper question is uploaded to help aspirants understand how to crack a topic or question, how to write relevantly, what coherence is, and how to include and connect ideas, opinions, and suggestions to score the maximum. 

Question Breakdown

In this question, the examiner has asked about the “External Determinants” of foreign policy. You have to explain the concept of foreign policy, its importance, transnational actors and, multiple scholars’ viewpoints that are in support of the belief that external actors influence the foreign policy of a state. In, addition to this you have to take China and its foreign policy as an example. Explain each transnational determiner concerning China’s foreign policy. You can add benefits and limitations together under the same heading. Lastly, conclude your question by telling how these determiners are important to these superpowers, to control the exploitation of different resources as well as beneficial at the same time.


  1. Introduction
  2. Foreign Policy
  • Determining Factors
  • Types of Foreign Policy
  • How do Transnational Actors Affect Policies Around the Globe?
  • Building intergovernmental alliances or treaties
  • Involving nation-states as a member of protective organizations
  • Controlling of production and other services outside the boundaries of states
  • Transnational Actors Influencing the Foreign Policy of China 
  • China- a change of policy
  • A business sector moulding Beijing’s Foreign policy
    • Zhou chuqu policy 1999
    • CMCC acquisition of Ainak Mine Afghanistan 2007
    • China’s Central Asia Gas-pipeline 2008
  • Financial Institutions
  • Energy companies and their effect on China’s foreign policy
  • Public Opinion shaping China’s foreign policy
  • Critical Analysis
  • Conclusion

Answer to the Question


Foreign Policy is the mechanism that independent states and governments use, to process their interstate diplomacy or their mutual relationships. The foreign policy of each state is peculiar and distinctive as per their economic and political aims and requirements. It can be either determined by domestic wants and needs or by international actors that have the power to influence state’s foreign policy. These international actors or transnational actors can be international organizations, regional organizations, different monetary projects, armed groups, etc. If China is taken as an example, being a world emerging power it also has numerous internal and external determinants that can affect its foreign policy.

  • Foreign Policy

Foreign policy is a guiding mechanism for national governments in their inter-state relationships and intra- state diplomacy. The foreign policy of a state reflects its goals and values and helps it to achieve its economic and political aims. Most of these policies surround national and international securities and help in determining a state’s interaction with other countries or international organizations. It depends upon several factors, which include:

  • The country’s political stability or instability, economic and financial condition and geographical location.
  • The interstate relationship among neighboring states and with leading states.
  • Alliances or treaties to which a country is bound .
  • Technology advancement or economic development programs.
  • Religious stability

“Foreign Policy is a matter of cost and benefit and not theology.”

Farid Zakaria, a political commentator, and Indian American journalist

How Do Transnational Actors Affect Policies Around The Globe?

Transnational actors have a significant role in foreign policymaking and its behavior. Some authors like Boli, Thomas, Florini, and Held, praise the emergence of a new world as a civil society that is interdependent and free from wars. They believe that the concept mentioned above has changed the hawkish world into a peaceful society. According to them, this change is due to the existence of different non-state actors, NGOs, IGOs, or MNCs. These international organizations maintain a strong grip over the policies and actions of the state by:

  • Building intergovernmental alliances or treaties for a specific cause like NATO, African Union,      INTERPOL, United Nations(UN), etc.
  • Involving nation-states as a member of protective organizations e.g.Oxfam International, Red Crescent, CARE, Save the children, Amnesty International, and World Wildlife Fund, etc.
  • Control of production and other services outside the boundaries of states like Samsung electronics, Toyota motor corporation, and Walmart, etc.
  • Uncontrollable rise of the religious sect, for example, Al-Qaeda.


Transnational actors have become important cultural, political, social, and economic influencers that have trans-cultural and trans-societal relations across borders. They work independently of the states but are very important in constructing transnational treaties and intergovernmental organizations to achieve national and international goals.

China, despite being an emerging superpower has the same influence. Other than domestic influences on policy-making, China faces external pressure in the formulation of new policies to secure its interest globally. The prominent transnational actors influencing China’s foreign policy, include:


China has been exempted from the involvement in the formation of key institutions after WWII due to its isolationist policies. Still, these institutions pressurize China’s policies on the myriad of issues. So to overcome this pressure China seeks to change its policies and regain its respect in the international community. In recent times, Xi has artfully portrayed China as a world leader leaving the US behind. During Covid19 years, when the world was caged in a restricted environment, Beijing has given enormous financial support approximately 2 billion to World Health Assembly when at the same time US withdrew from WHO under Donald Trump.

Through this support program, China used its monetary influence to persuade underdeveloped countries to counter US interference in its domestic affairs.


The substantial overseas business activities by state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have a considerable contribution in state’s foreign policy decision-making. Although they are the actors on margins, they have a major impact on policy-making, especially in cases in which states share strong economic ties with China. States depend upon these commercial ties to fulfill their economic and security agendas. The political leadership and top management of SEOs share a symbiotic relationship in policy-making without giving the evidence of the driver’s seat. An example of their symbiotic relationship was seen when Beijing appointed two Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials to diplomatic posts after the approval of China National Petroleum Corporation. Some of the other instances include:

  • Zhou chuqu policy 1999

Since the Chinese government announced Zhou policy (going out) in 1999 to promote Chinese enterprises and their expansion abroad, its companies have invested approximately 178 billion dollars. Chinese companies have earned millions of dollars from this goin- out policy.

  • CMCC acquisition of Ainak Mine Afghanistan 2007

China’s Metallurgical Construction Corporation (CMCC) purchased Afghanistan’s Aynak Copper mine for 3.5 billion dollars in 2007. Its ramifications include the construction and development of rail, power, health care infrastructures, closer ties between two countries, and stability in the entire region.

  • China’s Central Asia Gas-pipeline 2008

This pipeline has fulfilled half of the consumption needs of China. The pipeline flows from Turkmenistan to China, that cannot only fulfill China’s needs, but can counter Russia’s influence over the eastern region.


There are two major government-controlled monetary institutions, one is Eximbank (Export Import Bank of China) and the second is CDB (China Development Bank). They both have an important role in supporting China’s business outreach in different continents. They are tasked to expand Chinese business and promote its culture and economy. Their international activities provide a boost to the country’s oil, telecommunication and mineral companies.

Their foreign loans and aids directly connect them with foreign policy formulations related to trade and investments. Examples include, CDB’s  5 billion dollar fund for China Africa development, 25 billion dollar loan to Rosneft and Transneft (Russian oil pipelines), and 5 billion dollar fund to Bank of Kazakhstan by Eximbank.

  • CNOOC (China National Offshore Oil Corporation) has played a prominent role in territorial disputes with Japan over the East China Sea and South East Asian States over Spratly islands. The dispute was over untapped reserves of oil and gas. CNOOC along with the Philippines and Vietnam opted for a conciliatory approach to dissolve the conflict. So, the company signed bilateral agreements with both to avoid hindrances over the extraction of new fuel reserves.
  • A state’s foreign policy can also get affected by the extraterritorial activities of different companies. For instance, number of Chinese workers in the conflict-prone areas of the world have risen, and their security is one of the foreign policy agenda for Beijing. During the last decade, Chinese projects in Africa tripled so did the number of workers as well. Due to the least developed regions, many of the Chinese workers got killed and abducted. Later on, it was found out that it was done by Al-Qaeda as a retaliative act of killing Uighur Muslims in China.


It is a debated topic both outside and inside China. Online community and Chinese media influence the policy-making of China. In 1980s, China tried to cut media subsidies which provoked them to collect funds to make their outlets. But now, as per demand around 2000 newspapers and magazines and a number of TV channels are working in China. Global Times, an international magazine has approximately 1 million circulations on daily basis. China has the largest number of internet users in the world which make it merely difficult to hide any national or international news. But the influence is omnidirectional, these complex links between foreign policy actors I.e. media and citizens along with the unmanageable internet have weighed on policy formulation.


The past two decades, were the most critical period for China’s foreign policy as it was marked by many achievements that include:  putting forward the idea of the Chinese dream and shared future goals for mankind, their Olympic 2008, multi-billion BRI, overtaking all other countries as the second largest economy and number of development projects involving more than 60 countries across the globe. As China has surfaced as a superpower, it has damaged the concept of Neoliberalism and Neorealism and brought new concepts of multipolar and soft power policy. Antonio Gramsci, an IR theorist,  claimed in his theory that, a class or state can neither dominate by narrowing its interests nor by coercion. Rather, a state can dominate by forming alliances, exerting moral and intellectual leadership and make compromises with entities for the sake of self-interest and China is the biggest example of Gramscian thoughts.


A century ago there were wars and disputes, still exist in this century but not with that intensity. The 21st century is a century of growth, peace, technology, development, and change of power. Beijing has struggled for many decades to become a second of the world that has many new methods and plans to engage the world. Before the plans, and their implementation; a policy is formulated keeping in view the domestic issues and needs as well as external interests, boundaries, limitations, and requirements. These transnational actors have a major role in formulating the foreign policy of a country, but sometimes it can more powerful entity as compared to an independent nation and that can be a threat to the autonomy of a country.

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