Yan, Xuetong. Leadership and the Rise of Great Powers

(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press), 280p. $29.95 Hardcover
  • Xiao Alvin YangEmail author
Book Review

In this thought-provoking book, Yan offers a novel and provocative perspective by challenging mainstream American international relations (IR) theory. To do this, he first turns around the question, why does a hegemon decline, and instead Yan asks why does a state rise? The simple answer is: political leadership. However, how Yan arrives at this answer is worth close examination, which is systematically explained in this book. Using a positivist approach, Yan extracts concepts from pre-Qin political thoughts and then develops them into a new theory of how a rising power can replace a dominant power peacefully. Expanding on his earlier book [1], he further develops his theory to contribute to the development of IR theory in general, and in non-Western IR or Chinese IR theory in particular. However, the universality of his theory including its underlying political determinism, is questionable. The strength of this theory lies in its clarity and parsimony, in which concepts and variables...


  1. 1.
    Yan, Xuetong. 2013. Ancient Chinese thought, modern Chinese power. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Yang, Xiao (2019) Theorizing the BRICS: Does the BRICS Challenge the Current Global Order In Xing Li, (ed.) The International Political Economy of the BRICS. New York: Routledge 37–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Journal of Chinese Political Science/Association of Chinese Political Studies 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Subdivision Globalization & PoliticsUniversität KasselKasselGermany

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