A Non-world: Chinese Perceptions of the Western International Order

  • Matti PuranenEmail author


As the West struggles, China, economically and politically stable, has increased its criticism toward the Western-led international order. According to Chinese arguments, the ongoing decade has demonstrated that the Western liberal international order is no more capable of solving the troubles of the globalizing world. It is as if the Western political imagination has run out of steam and it is now the responsibility of China to take the lead in stabilizing the world. On the side of the official statements, Chinese theorists of world politics are envisioning a new alternative world order, which would be based on a historical, sinocentric system that was in place in East Asia for thousands of years. According to Chinese theorists, this ‘tianxia system’ was based on completely different philosophical and institutional foundations, and it is a mere historical contingency that it was later left in the shadow of the Western international order. This ‘tianxia theory’ is one of the main proponents for a new ‘Chinese theory of world politics’. It is slowly influencing policy circles in China, and more importantly, globally challenging our ingrained conceptions on world politics. A large part of the work of the tianxia theorists consists of criticisms of the ‘west’: its religion, political thought, and ‘chaotic’ individualist nature. The chapter especially focuses on these critical narratives of the ‘west’.


China International relations theory Narratives 


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland

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