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Non-Western Diplomacy: The Case of East Asia


Admission requirements

MSc International Relations and Diplomacy students.


Does a particular ‘East Asian’ style and strategy of diplomacy and international relations exist next to the dominant mode of diplomatic practice with its largely Western origins? In this course we will seek answers to this question through a discussion of diplomacy and international relations in East Asia. The focus is on the distinctiveness of the diplomacy and foreign policy of China and Japan, the region’s two main actors. We will also discuss the enormous political, economic, and social changes that the East Asian region has undergone as a result of globalization; as well as its growing economic clout and integration into the international system.
The seminar-style discussion and assignments are devoted to topical developments and to practical dilemmas that policymakers face. Specific topics to be addressed include China’s great power diplomacy; Japanese diplomacy in flux; regional economic cooperation in East Asia; and China as a global actor and changing rules of the game in international relations.

Course objectives

Objective 1:

The course aims to reflect on the basic features that characterize the currently dominant modes of IR and diplomacy. Through its focus on East Asia, it deepens students’ understanding of how countries in this region –China and Japan in particular – use diplomacy to achieve their foreign policy aims.

Objective 2:

The course also aims to enhance students’ research and analytical capacities, as well as their presentation and debating skills.

Objective 3:

Enhance students’ research and analytical skills, as well as their presentation and debating skills, based on a policy-oriented approach.


See the link at the front page of the programme

Mode of instruction

This course is seminar based. Introductory lectures and group discussion are complemented with class presentations by students. One or more guest lecturers will be invited to speak on topics of particular interest.
Every student is required to present a briefing note and to write a policy brief (individual assignments, addressing the same subject) and to contribute to a mock conference (individual and group assignment).

Course Load

5 EC

Assessment method

  • active class participation: 10%

  • briefing note: 30% (written assignment and presentation: 15%+15%)

  • policy brief: 30%

  • contribution to the mock conference: 30% (individual + group performance: 20%+10%)


Important information relevant to the course will be available on Blackboard.

Reading list

Students will read approximately 60-70 pages per week, mostly consisting of journal articles, book chapters, government publications and opinionated articles. Complementing these compulsory and supplementary readings, a list of selected readings is provided prior to the first class, for those students who are interested in reading still more about international relations and East Asia.
Furthermore, students are encouraged to look for relevant institutions and topical on-line content themselves. A list of think tanks and discussion fora that are particularly recommended will be provided.


Use both uSis and Blackboard to register for every course.
Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results. Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course.
Also register for every course in Blackboard. Important information about the course is posted here.


Dr. Maaike Okano-Heijmans


This course is an elective course designed for second year MIRD students.
This elective is conditional on at least 5 students registering for this course.