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Diplomacy and International Relations in East Asia



The course is built up around topics that illustrate the enormous political, economic, and social changes that the East Asian region has undergone as a result of globalization, its growing economic clout, and its integration into the international system. The focus is on diplomatic processes of the region’s two main actors, Japan and China, as well as on the international context in which these processes take place. Particular attention will be devoted to topical developments and to practical dilemmas that policymakers face. Specific topics to be addressed include China’s foreign policy and diplomacy; Japan’s foreign policy and diplomacy; Taiwan, North Korea and South Korea; the United States and its pivot to Asia; regional cooperation in East Asia.

Course objectives

Objective 1: The course deepens students’ understanding of how countries in the region – in particular China and Japan – use diplomacy to achieve their foreign policy aims, and aims to explore whether 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.

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.


On the Public Administration front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Blackboard.

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

Final grades will be calculated as follows:

  • active class participation: 10%

  • presentation of a briefing note: 30%

  • policy brief: 30%

  • contribution to the mock conference: 30%


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: