The increasing number of Chinese citizens living, working and travelling abroad as part of China’s rise has created an obligation for the People’s Republic of China to protect them. This is particularly the case in the South Pacific, where anti-Chinese riots in 2006 and 2009 led to some of the earliest examples of ‘overseas citizen protection’.
The Chinese leadership had previously assumed that, in most cases, other powers would evacuate Chinese citizens along with their own from situations of unrest abroad, but this has changed in the last decade, leading to new policies and capabilities that have in turn generated new expectations among the Chinese population. This phenomenon can be explained as the response of a rising power needing to protect its people and interests overseas as its influence expands. It could also be seen as a justification for the projection of power to underwrite China’s growing stake in world affairs. Part 1 of this series examines this trend, while Part 2 investigates a recent and highly nationalistic genre of Chinese movies used by the former to explain the latter in a clear move to establish such operations by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as ‘the new normal’ for both domestic and international audiences.