The Concept of Tianxia and Its Story

  • Tingyang ZhaoEmail author
Part of the Key Concepts in Chinese Thought and Culture book series (KCCTC)


Tianxia is a theory about world politics invented about three thousand years ago during the Zhou dynasty. It was designed to solve the issue of a small state governing many large ones, which Zhou found itself confronted with after a surprise victory. Zhou took the internalization approach to solve the issue through the integration of all external existences into its Tianxia system, a concept that highlights compatibility and coexistence. Tianxia applied relational, rather than individual, rationality in solving conflicts between various interests, and thus transformed Zhou politics into a world politics that was all inclusive and above national calculations. Conceptualized as conflating the three worlds of geography, socio-psychology and politics, the world of Tianxia is infinitely expansive, appeals to all people’s expectations and reflects the “Way of Heaven” in its political institutions. Hence, the Tianxia system, a system of world politics, enabled Zhou to establish its governance for about 800 years.


Tianxia inception World politics Trinity world 

Copyright information

© Foreign Language Teaching and Research Publishing Co., Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chinese Academy of Social SciencesBeijingChina

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