Leadership Turnover and Foreign Policy Realignment toward China
The foreign policy consequences of economic dependence, or the “Hirschmanesque Effects”, have spawned a large body of literature. In recent years, this subfield of research experienced a revival, which to a large extent can be attributed to China’s economic rise. Many researchers attempt to answer the question whether China’s economic power has translated to political influence and resulted in foreign policy alignment by other countries. Some also discuss the question in the context of Sino-US rivalry. The literature shows that economic dependence, measured in different ways, significantly increases the likelihood that a weak state aligns its foreign policy with a dominant state. Although a systemic explanation for the overall level of alignment is undeniably salient. we believe that understanding realignment is as important as understanding alignment. The key motivation is that shift in economic dependence - being incremental in nature - can hardly provide a sufficient account for sudden changes in a state’s foreign policy orientation. In this research, we use newly collected data to quantitatively examine the effect of leadership turnover on re-alignment of other countries’ foreign policies toward China. We find that leadership turnover in anocracies is more likely to result in foreign policy realignment than autocracies and democracies. We further explore the direction of realignment and find out that anocracies aligned with China in the past are more likely to realign away after leadership turnover.