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Non-Western Diplomacy: The Case of East Asia


Admission requirements

Only students of the Advanced MSc International Relations and Diplomacy programme can take this course.


Does a particular ‘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 Asia. The focus is on the distinctiveness of the diplomacy and foreign policy of China and Japan, the region’s two main actors, as well as India. We will also discuss the enormous political, economic, and social changes that the Asian region has undergone as a result of globalisation; 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. To this end, policy-makers and/or experts from the region and/or the Netherlands will be invited as guest lecturers.
Specific topics to be addressed include China’s great power diplomacy, Japanese diplomacy in flux, and approaches to governing the digital age across the Indo-Pacific.

Course objectives

Objective 1:

The course aims to reflect on the basic features that characterise the currently dominant modes of IR and diplomacy, with largely Western origins. Also, it contributes to students’ understanding of the systemic and practical changes in these fields, stemming from the growing influence of countries/actors with rather distinct approaches.

Objective 2:

Through its focus on Asia, it deepens students’ understanding of the foreign policy objectives and the distinct diplomatic approach and style of countries in this region – particularly China and Japan.

Objective 3:

The course sets out to enhance students’ research and analytical skills with a view to improving their understanding of policy-oriented decision-making.

Objective 4:

Based on a policy-oriented approach, the course aims to enhance students’ practical skills – in particular their presentation, debating and writing skills.


On the right-hand side of the programme front page of the E-Prospectus you will find a link to the online timetables.

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 (including policymakers) will be invited to speak on topics of particular interest.

Every student is required to write and present a briefing note (in pairs); to write a policy brief (individual or group assignment); and to contribute to a mock conference (individual and group assignment).

Study load: 140 hours

Attendance Policy
Attendance is mandatory, subject to course structure (see syllabus for details).

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%)

Failed partial grades or components should be compensated by passed partial grades or components. The calculated grade must be at least 5,5 to pass the course. It is not possible to re-sit a partial grade or component once you have passed the course.

  • Passed partial grades obtained in the academic year 2022-2023 remain valid during the academic year 2023-2024.

  • Passed partial grades obtained in the academic year 2023-2024 remain valid during the academic year 2024-2025.

  • Should a student fail the overall course, s/he can complete the course in the next academic year. In cases of exceptional circumstances, a student may apply to the board of examiners for a resit to complete the course in the same academic year.

Reading list

Students will read approximately 60-70 pages per week, mostly consisting of journal articles, book chapters, publications by think tanks and governments 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 Asia.

Furthermore, students are encouraged to look for relevant institutions and topical online content themselves. A list of think tanks and discussion fora that are particularly recommended will be provided.


The programme will register the students in Usis based on the group division. Use Brightspace for course information.


Dr. M.W.A. Okano-Heijmans, Clingendael Institute


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.
This course is offered by The Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’.