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Chinese Foreign Policy Database

The Wilson Center’s History and Public Policy Program unveiled the Chinese Foreign Policy Database, an online resource containing nearly 1,500 declassified documents on the international relations of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since 1949. The freely-accessible database fills the critical need for sources and reliable information relating to China’s foreign policies.

Chinese Foreign Policy Database

Wilson Center Unveils Unprecedented Database of Chinese Foreign Policy History

WASHINGTON – The Wilson Center’s History and Public Policy Program unveiled the Chinese Foreign Policy Database, an online resource containing nearly 1,500 declassified documents on the international relations of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since 1949. The freely-accessible database fills the critical need for sources and reliable information relating to China’s foreign policies.

Documents in the new database--the vast majority available with English translation--include diplomatic cables, high level correspondence, meeting minutes, and other internal documents retrieved from dozens of archives around the world. “These materials give an unprecedented insider’s view of Chinese foreign policy since the founding of the PRC, said Christian Ostermann, Director of the History and Public Policy Program. “They offer intimate insights into the worldviews of China’s leaders, as well as the perspectives of China’s allies, enemies, and neighbors.” Over 600 records from the now-closed Chinese Foreign Ministry Archives in Beijing are included.

“The Database provides a rare glimpse into the internal dynamics of Chinese foreign policy making at a time when the Chinese government has curtailed access to information” said Sergey Radchenko, Reader in International Relations at Aberystwyth University. “Whether you are a seasoned scholar, a journalist, a policy professional, a university freshman, or just an inquisitive member of the informed public, the Database is absolutely indispensable for understanding contemporary China.”

The Chinese Foreign Policy Database presents a wealth of new information, including a compelling timeline of major events in China’s foreign relations, and more than 25 curated collections focusing on topics such as China’s alliance with North Korea, the 1962 Sino-Indian War, the tumultuous Cultural Revolution, and the rise and fall of communist solidarity between China and the Soviet Union.

“The materials from China's now sealed Foreign Ministry archives will doubtless quickly become indispensable for scholars, journalists and indeed anyone seeking to understand the arc of Beijing's diplomatic policy,” said Richard McGregor, veteran China news correspondent and author of The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers. “Expertly selected, intelligently curated, carefully translated and professionally presented, the collections in the Chinese Foreign Policy Database will help penetrate the armor of opaqueness that still surrounds China's governing system.”

The Chinese Foreign Policy Database is maintained by the Wilson Center’s History and Public Policy Program and has been generously supported by the MacArthur Foundation. The archival materials featured on the Database have been obtained through collaborative research undertaken by an international team of historians, political scientists, and students.

The Database is an ongoing project that will grow as more valuable historical materials and resources on contemporary Chinese history become available. Foundations, corporations, private individuals, and researchers wishing to contribute to the development of the Chinese Foreign Policy Database should contact the History and Public Policy Program directly (historyandpublicpolicyprogram@wilsoncenter.org).

Click here to be redirected to the Chinese Foreign Policy Database.

Notes to editors:

The Wilson Center provides a strictly nonpartisan space for the worlds of policymaking and scholarship to interact. By conducting relevant and timely research and promoting dialogue from all perspectives, it works to address the critical current and emerging challenges confronting the United States and the world.

The Wilson Center’s History and Public Policy Program focuses on the relationship between history and policy making and seeks to foster open, informed and non-partisan dialogue on historically relevant issues. It manages the award-winning Digital Archive (www.DigitalArchive.org), which contains over 7,500 documents from international archives on international history since 1945.

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