This article explores a controversial issue of Chinese foreign policy: whether the Hu leadership has abandoned Deng Xiaoping’s taoguang yanghui policy — hiding one’s capabilities and biding one’s time — and reoriented Chinese foreign policy towards a more assertive, if not more aggressive, direction. This is controversial because while China in public still insists that it follows the taoguang yanghui policy established by Deng in the early 1990s; Chinese diplomacy has become increasingly active and assertive since Hu came to power, particularly since the 2008-2009 global economic crisis. This article argues that as a rising power, an active foreign policy has become a necessity rather than a luxury for China. This diplomatic activism marks a certain departure from the taoguang yanghui policy, but the Hu leadership is still juggling China’s taoguang yanghui policy with its emerging role as a global power. One defining tension in China’s foreign policy agenda is to find a balance between expanding China’s international influence and taking more international responsibility on the one hand and continuing to play down its pretence of being a global power and avoiding confrontation with the United States on the other.