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Non-Western Diplomacy: The Case of East Asia


Admission requirements

MSc International Relations and Diplomacy students.


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; connectivity in the Indo-Pacific; 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 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 (policymakers) will be invited to speak on topics of particular interest.
Every student is required to write and present a briefing note; to write a policy brief (individual assignments, addressing the same subject); and to contribute to a mock conference (individual and group assignment).

Study load: 140 hours

Assessment method

  • active class participation: 10%

  • failed grade must be compensated, resit is not possible

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

  • failed grade must be compensated, resit is not possible

  • policy brief: 30%

  • a resit of the policy brief is only possible if the student has a calculated overall course grade lower than 5.50.

  • the resit will take place 6th of June 2022.  

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

  • failed grade must be compensated, resit is not possible

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.

Partial grades will remain valid for one academic year.

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


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.