Speech Abstract

Prof. XIANG, Lanxin
Professor, International History and Politics,
Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland


Chinese View of International Order

Chinese leaders are developing a normative structure to guide their international behavior, hoping to find a balance between the traditional Westphalian norms and the post-Westphalian norms in a globalized world. In doing so, they are going back to Chinese traditional culture to find inspirations. To begin with, China does not consider itself to be on the “rise”, but on a historic process of national “restoration”. That means, as Henry Kissinger says in his recent book, “the Chinese DNA has reasserted itself” which explains why so much interest has been accorded to Beijing’s foreign policies. Western international relations theories have been struggling to find a viable way to explain China in the 21st century. So far these theories are irrelevant to Chinese realities. The Western theory of international affairs often assumes order to be the opposite of chaos, the Confucian conception contrasts chaos with harmony. This distinction reflects the centrality of immanence rather than transcendence in Chinese political thought. In other words, chaos and harmony are not in a dualistic opposition to one another. Thus there is no “order versus chaos” mental paradigm, which stresses the international power distribution, and hence the western obsession with the “rise and fall” of great powers.