That promises to be a very insightful conversation, looking forward to it!
I very much agree with Tobin’s approach of analysing party documents and leaders’ speech to understand its designs for world order. It is I believe a much more reliable guide to understanding the PRC’s behaviour and intentions than Chinese intellectuals and scholars’ discourse. Despite this, analysing the latter seems to be a more popular approach among China scholars (perhaps simply because it is more accessible).
Which leads me to a question, namely how should we think about the link between intellectual discourse and official policy? How does the first feed into the second? To what extent are academic writings reliable sources of insights into the CCP’s intentions and designs?