Confucian friendship adds to the literature on friendship distance sensibilities and aims to maintain and even reinforce the Confucian ethical order, whereas contemporary international politics fails to provide any clear ethical order. The use of friendship and the concomitant creation of a friendly role by China indicate an intended move away from the improper order, including the tributary system, the Cold War, imperialism, and socialism. Confucian friendship continues to constitute contemporary Chinese diplomacy under the circumstance of indeterminate distance sensibilities. It highlights the relevance of the prior relations that are perceived to have constituted friendship. This article explores several illustrative practices of a Confucian typology of friendly international relations, divided into four kinds of friendship, according to (1) the strength of prior relations and (2) the asymmetry of capacity, including the policies toward Russia, North Korea, and Vietnam, among others. Such a Confucian friendship framework additionally alludes to foreign policy analysis in general. The US policies for China and North Korea are examples that indicate this wide scope of application.

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