Protecting China’s Interests Overseas provides a fascinating and new window into Chinese foreign and security policymaking. In particular, it shows how the management of non-traditional security issues abroad led to the emergence of China’s strategy to defend its interests overseas. This book comes at a critical time, as China has just inaugurated its first overseas military base in Djibouti, thereby establishing a long-term military presence outside Asia.

Based on a large number of Chinese primary sources, the book examines how the main actors involved in the making and implementation of Chinese foreign policy understood the problem of protecting the assets and lives of Chinese companies and nationals abroad, especially in North Africa and the Middle East, and interacted with each other depending on their priorities, preferences, and organizational interests.

As the different chapters explore various aspects and dynamics within the Chinese foreign and security policy machine, the analysis concludes that the emergence of China’s strategy to defend its interests overseas was, to a large extent, crisis-driven. The evacuation of 36,000 Chinese nationals from Libya in 2011 was a critical moment in this process. Henceforth, significant efforts were made to strengthen the capabilities of and coordination between the different agencies under the control of the Chinese leadership, especially the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

Consistently, China’s military presence abroad expanded and evolved over the years to stabilize the regions where the country’s human and economic presence is most significant, and to neutralize the non-traditional security threats against it. However, Chinese policymakers still face important challenges and complex dilemmas on the path to formulate a sustainable policy towards this very difficult issue. Protecting China’s Interests Overseas also offers an opportunity to rethink how we study and understand Chinese foreign policymaking.

If you want to know more, check the endorsements and reviews below. At the bottom of this page, you can also find the list of the book-related events.


“Ghiselli has written a terrific and important book. Based on extensive research with primary sources, he demonstrates how China’s national interests have expanded beyond East Asia and how the government has endeavored to secure these interests. Protecting China’s Interests Overseas offers an important contribution to our understanding of Chinese foreign policy today.”

M. Taylor Fravel, Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science and Director and the Security Studies Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“What is driving China’s unprecedented military power projection outside of its own neighborhood? Andrea Ghiselli’s answer may surprise you. Based upon a meticulous mining of a wide array of primary sources, he offers a fresh perspective on one of the most noteworthy international security trends of the twenty-first century. Highly recommended to anyone interested in discerning the main direction of China’s geostrategic trajectory.”

Andrew Scobell, Senior Political Scientist, RAND Corporation

“China has gone global and its security presence in faraway regions has increased. In Protecting China’s Interests Overseas, Andrea Ghiselli argues that this expansion has little to do with the Sino-American power competition and is not the result of a well-thought out plan. He takes the reader from the corridors of political power to the leaders of security forces, from the bureaucracies to the general public to show that a haphazard policy process led Chinese leaders to securitize non-traditional security issues — such as piracy, terrorism, and social upheavals. Highly recommended for scholars and security practitioners who seek to understand how China protects its interests globally.”

Pascal Vennesson, Professor of Political Science, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University Singapore

“Andrea Ghiselli has written an important book casting a bright light on two important, related questions: first, how and why has the People’s Republic of China (PRC) evolved from being a nation primarily concerned with protecting its territorial integrity, preserving internal order, and asserting control over Taiwan, to become a nation increasingly motivated to safeguard expanding interest frontiers externally?; second, how and why has a nation that from the mid-1950s to today proclaimed ‘non-interference in the internal affairs of others’ to be at the heart of its foreign policy, become a growing force in UN international peacekeeping operations, deployed armed military personnel in humanitarian and citizen-evacuation missions, dispatched naval forces on anti-piracy and anti-terrorism missions, inserted its own hot-pursuit commandos into neighbouring states (2011), and utilized both government and private security forces operating abroad to protect Chinese citizens and property?”

David M. Lampton, Professor Emeritus and former Hyman Professor and Director of SAIS-China and China Studies, The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Read the full review in The China Quarterly.

“Andrea Ghiselli’s work is a welcome contribution to the literature on the protection of China’s overseas interests. He brings new findings in two areas of this issue. First, the book brings a valuable theoretical perspective to the issue of protecting Chinese overseas interests by bringing in the concept of ‘securitisation’.Second, the book brings important insights into the influence of ideas in the defence of what the author calls ‘interest frontiers’.”

Mathieu Duchâtel, Director of the Asia Program at Institut Montaigne. Read the full review in the European Journal of East Asian Studies.

“These deeply informed books [Protecting China’s Interests Overseas and Daniel S. Markey’s China’s Western Horizon] challenge the view that China’s growing economic influence around the world will inevitably lead to Chinese political and military domination.”

Andrew J. Nathan, Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science, Columbia University. Read the full capsule review in Foreign Affairs.


Chen Zheng, Professor, School of International Relations and Public Affairs, Fudan University. Read the full review here.

Protecting China’s Interests Overseas is also among the suggested readings included in the Oxford Bibliography on the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.


This is the list of the book-related events that are open to the public. It will be updated regularly as new events are confirmed.

  • UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy & Fudan-UC Center on Contemporary China – February 8, 2021 – 5pm Pacific time.
  • Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University – February 24, 2021 – 11.30am Eastern time.
  • Australian Centre on China in the World, Australian National University – February 25, 2021 – 4pm Australian time.
  • MIT – March 4, 2021 – 7pm Eastern time.
  • Oxford China Centre, Oxford University – March 12, 2021 – 2pm UK time.
  • University of Notre Dame – March 26, 2020 – 11.30am Eastern time
  • University of Torino – April 1, 2021 – 5pm CET.
  • Cornell University – April 14, 2021 – 8.30pm Eastern time.
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies – April 15, 2021 – 9am Eastern time.
  • S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University – April 20, 2021 – 3.30pm Singapore time.
  • Hong Kong University – May 3, 2021 – 12pm Beijing time.
  • Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore – May 5, 2021 – 4pm Singapore time.
  • King’s College London – May 10, 2021 – 10am UK time.
  • Department of East Asian Studies, Tel Aviv University & Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies – May 18, 2021- 12.15pm Israeli time.
  • Chatham House & King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies – June 2, 2021 – 1 pm UK time.
  • University of Milan – June 9th – 1.30pm CET.
  • The Center for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zurich – June 21, 2021.
  • Danish Institute for International Studies – September 2, 2021 – 10am CET.
  • The Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University – November 10, 2021 – 5 pm Pacific time