Project publications

Cover image for The Pacific Review, Volume 36, Issue 3Matt Ferchen and Mikael Mattlin (2023)Five modes of China’s economic influence: rethinking Chinese economic statecraft“. The Pacific Review.

Interest and anxiety about China’s economic statecraft, or the ways in which it uses economic means to achieve foreign policy, is booming. The overriding perception is that China has sophisticated, long-term plans to enhance its power on the global stage through the use of economic strategies and tools and that it is uniquely capable of effectively implementing those plans now or in the future. Yet when it comes to actual outcomes, whether or not China has been able to achieve its foreign policy goals via economic means, the evidence is mixed at best. This article seeks to move beyond some of the shortcomings in our understanding of Chinese economic statecraft by exploring the links between perceptions, ambitions, abilities, and outcomes of Chinese foreign economic policies and behaviour. We propose an alternative to the concept of economic statecraft by introducing instead five different ‘modes of economic influence’. We suggest directions for future research focused on China’s economic influence, including its latent structural power.


Cover image for The Pacific Review, Volume 36, Issue 3

Shaun Breslin and Helen E. S. Nesadurai (2023)Economic statecraft, geoeconomics and regional political economies“. The Pacific Review.

In this introduction to the special issue, we establish the overarching objective for the collection; to investigate the salience and efficacy of conceptions of Economic Statecraft (ES) and Geoeconomics for understanding and explaining shifts in state-market relationships in a number of regional political economies. After a very short overview of different generations of ES research, we establish the set of common questions that each of the papers address, and how we arrived at them as the research project evolved. We point to the importance of ensuring that ES is not just thought of as something that the more powerful regional states engage in, and the need to adopt a three-part analytical distinction between different components of ES: motivations and objectives; actions and tools; and outcomes and consequences. This allows us to trace the relationship between goals and effects, provides a basis for comparative studies, and makes it easier to make a distinction between ES and other forms of state involvement in the economy.


The Cultural Aspects of Advertising Communications in Modern China

Mattlin, Mikael and Mikko Rajavuori (2023) “Changing Causal Narratives and Risk Perceptions on Foreign Investment: the Riskification of Chinese Investments in the Nordic Region“. East Asia. 

This article surveys recent legislative and policy changes on foreign investments in four Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway). Until recently, only Finland had national legislation on foreign investments, although historically the Nordic countries were forerunners in introducing foreign investment controls. A general rethink in the USA and the European Union on the links between liberal economies, investment policies and security has occurred in recent years. This has cast investments by enterprises from major authoritarian countries, foremost China, in a different light. Rather than investment numbers as such, or realised risks related to Chinese investments, a ‘causal narrative’ has emerged in the Nordic countries that draws attention to the nature of the Chinese party-state and its’ unclear relationship to Chinese companies, underlining potential strategic motivations and security risks behind Chinese investments. Rapidly changing risk perceptions have driven legislative and policy changes on foreign direct investment (FDI), e.g. investment screening. Chinese investments have thus become riskified, to use a term coined by Olaf Corry. Shifting risk perceptions have similarly preceded previous ‘formative epochs’ in Nordic FDI legislation in the early twentieth century, after the Second World War and at the end of the Cold War. Each formative epoch has been characterised by a distinctive ‘risk profile’. We postulate that these shifting risk perceptions significantly shape the reception of FDI as a key channel of cross-border connectivity.


Kauppila, Liisa and Sanna Kopra (2022) ”China’s rise and the Arctic region up
to 2049
The Polar Journal | Taylor & Francis Online three scenarios for regional futures in an era of climate change and power transition”.  The Polar Journal 12(1): 148-171.

Although China has emerged as an increasingly influential global actor over recent decades, it is unclear whether a more fundamental transformation is shaking processes of regionalisation in this context. Our scenario-based case study considers the spatial reconfiguration of the rapidly globalising Arctic with varying degrees of Chinese engagement. More specifically, we examine alternative and transformational configurations of the Arctic in 2049, and ponder upon the plausibility of the hypothesised changes in light of three schools of thought on International Relations – realism, liberal institutionalism and relationalism. Hence, we explore how the rise of China could potentially alter the regional dynamics and whether, consequently, regions should be rethought both empirically and theoretically. We conclude that pluralistic discussion on the multiple regional outcomes is a necessary precondition for achieving a balanced and democratic future in the Arctic and beyond.


Poutala, TeroElina Sinkkonen and Mikael Mattlin (2022) “EU Strategic Autonomy and the Perceived Challenge of China: Can Critical Hubs Be De-weaponized?“, European Foreign Affairs Review 27, Special Issue: 79 – 98.                     

Geoeconomic competition, supply security vulnerabilities and complex technological dependencies challenge the European Union’s ‘strategic autonomy’. Evolving from more traditional security/ defence notions, a broader definition of strategic autonomy encompasses also economic dimensions. Economic resilience underpins security and defence arrangements. The EU has lacked instruments for protection against ‘predatory’ strategic investments by external actors, and technological dependence on potential strategic rivals. This article analyses two critical hubs, or potential ‘chokepoints’, in the EU’s attempts to achieve strategic autonomy – critical maritime transport infrastructure and 5G – as well as countermeasures developed by the EU. Chinese enterprises have made strategic investments in key EU infrastructure and high-tech industries over the past decade. In response, the EU has established an investment screening framework to screen (authorize, issue condition, prohibit or unwind) inward foreign direct investment (FDI) on security or public order grounds, and activated a mechanism for the enhancement of coordination and cooperation between the Commission and Member States. The EU has also sought to reduce reliance on Chinese suppliers by introducing the ‘5G toolbox’. We argue that the EU aims to ‘de-weaponize’ these two potential chokepoints. However, our article concludes that the political goal of strategic autonomy vis-à-vis external actors is hampered by the competence limitations of the Union to act in critical areas. Ultimately, much of the heavy lifting on implementing EU policy goals still falls upon Members States with varied economic and security interests.

Read full article here


Mattlin, Mikael (2021) “Normative economic statecraft: China’s quest to shape the world in its image,” in Chris C. Shei and Weixiao Wei (eds) Routledge Handbook of Chinese Studies. London: Routledge.

Arguably, two of the greatest questions in 21st-century world politics are how the preexisting institutions of the international system will be able to accommodate a rapidly rising China, and how China is going to wield its expanding global power and influence. Unsurprisingly, these have also been two of the hottest topics in Chinese studies over the past decade. Until the global financial crisis in 2008 and the Chinese leadership change in 2012, China was commonly seen as a nonrevisionist power gradually integrating into the Pax Americana system, while securing its own national interests. Since then, views of China’s rise have undergone a transformation. Today, China’s actions on the global stage invite more wary commentary, even apprehension. Yet, compared both to former and current Great Powers, what stands out about China’s use of power and influence is neither its militarism nor its ‘soft power’. China wields its power most actively, and arguably also most effectively, by using the purse, i.e., through trade, investment, and lending. China’s signature foreign policy project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is a case in point. This chapter provides an overview of state-of-the-art research revolving around China’s use of economic and financial means to serve foreign policy objectives with normative implications, defined here as normative economic statecraft. The chapter’s overview of China’s use of economic statecraft reveals its breadth and diversity. China also indirectly challenges existing international norms of economic governance by its alternative modus operandi. As China does not always proclaim its challenge to existing norms, this paper suggests an analytical distinction between stated and concealed normative objectives. Much of China’s challenge to global economic governance norms is concealed. Research on China has revitalized old debates on economic statecraft and geoeconomics, and reoriented their focus from economic coercion (e.g., sanctions) to economic inducements, and alternative institutions and norms. This subfield of China studies thus has a scholarly impact beyond the area studies specialization.


Other relevant publications by the core research team (2020- )

Breslin, Shaun (2021) China Risen? Studying Chinese Global Power. Bristol: Bristol University Press.

Breslin, Shaun (2021) “China Goes Out,” in Lowell Dittmer (ed), China’s Political Economy in the Xi Jinping Epoch: Domestic and Global Dimensions. Singapore: World Scientific.

Breslin, Shaun (2021) “Divided but not Poles Apart: Europe, the US and the Rise of China”, Asian Perspective, 45 (1).

Breslin, Shaun (ed) (2020) “The Normative Basis of Global Governance,” Special Issue of the Fudan Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences 13 (1): 1-5.

Kauppila, Liisa (2022) ”A Primary Node of the Global Economy: China and the Arctic,” in Matthias Finger and Gunnar Rekvig (eds) GlobalArctic: An Introduction to the Multifaceted Dynamics of the Arctic, 147–167. Springer.

Kauppila, Liisa and Sanna Kopra (2022) ”The War in Ukraine as a Critical Juncture: China, Russia, and Arctic Collaboration up to 2035”. In: Heininen, L., H. Exner-Pirot and J. Barnes (eds.)  Arctic Yearbook 2022: The Russian Arctic: Economics, Politics and Peoples. Akureyri, Iceland: Arctic Portal.

Kauppila, Liisa and Sanna Kopra (2021) ”Responsible international citizenship and
China’s participation in Arctic regionalization”. In Heininen, Lassi, Exner-Pirot, Heather and Justin Barnes (Eds.): Arctic Yearbook 2021. Defining and Mapping the Arctic: Sovereignties, Policies and Perceptions.

Kauppila, Liisa and Tuomas Kiiski (2020) ”The Red Dragon in Global Waters: The Making of the Polar Silk Road,” in Eva Pongrácz, Viktor Pavlov and Niko Hänninen (eds) Arctic Marine Sustainability, 465-485. Switzerland: Springer Polar Sciences.

Kruskopf, Milla, Elina E. Ketonen and Mikael Mattlin (2021) “Playing out diplomacy: gamified realization of future skills and discipline-specific theory,” European Political Science.

Luova, Outi (2020) “Local environmental governance and policy implementation: Variegated environmental education in three districts in Tianjin, China,” Urban Studies, 57 (3): 490–507.

Mattlin, Mikael, Lauri Paltemaa & Juha A. Vuori (2022) Kiinan poliittinen järjestelmä. Tampere: Vastapaino, 388 p.

Mattlin, Mikael (2021) “Anarchy is what students make of it: Playing out Wendt’s three cultures of anarchy,” Journal of Political Science Education 17 (2).

Mattlin, Mikael (2020) “Kanariefågeln som tystnade. Finlands gestalt shift om kinesiska investeringar,” Internasjonal Politikk 78 (1): 54–67.

Paltemaa, Lauri, Juha A. Vuori, Mikael Mattlin and Jouko Katajisto (2020) ”Meta-Information censorship and the creation of the Chinanet Bubble,” Information, Communication & Society 23 (14): 2064–2080.

Sinkkonen, Elina and Jussi Lassila. (2022). “Digital authoritarianism and technological cooperation in Sino-Russian relations: Common goals and diverging standpoints“, in Kirchberger, Sarah; Svenja Sinjen & Nils Wörmer (eds.) Russia-China relations: emerging alliance or eternal rivals? Springer Nature.

Sinkkonen, Elina (2021). “Dynamic dictators: improving the research agenda on autocratization and authoritarian resilience“. Democratization 28 (6):  1172-1190.

Sinkkonen, Elina (2021). “Dynamic dictators: elite cohesion and authoritarian resilience in China”. In Chris Shei & Weixiao Wei (eds) Routledge Handbook of Chinese Studies. London: Routledge: 113-126.

Sinkkonen, Elina and Marko Elovainio (2020) “Chinese Perceptions of Threats from the United States and Japan. Analysis of an Elite University Student Survey,” Political Psychology 41 (2): 265-282.

Stepien, Adam, Liisa Kauppila, Sanna Kopra, Juha Käpylä, Marc Lanteigne, Harri Mikkola and Matti Nojonen (2020) ”China’s Economic Presence in the Arctic: Realities, Expectations and Concerns,” in Koivurova, Timo and Sanna Kopra (eds) Chinese Policy and Presence in the Arctic, 90–136. The Netherlands: Brill.