This article explains underlying drivers of the general contours of Chinese foreign policy. Since the Cold War, China has increasingly been playing the role of a major power but demonstrates hesitancy in some theatres and has not developed its full capacities to that end. This article attends to the study of “Strategic Culture”, a framework which helps explain ideas generated from the history, culture, and societal narratives of a state, and which place general parameters that indicate preferred foreign policy options. Strategic Culture does not cause action, but helps define potential acceptable options. It is complementary to other explanations around the importance of factors such as distribution of material capabilities, decision maker’s idiosyncrasies, and alliance commitments. In particular, strategic culture helps understand long-term foreign policy patterns.