Conclusion: China’s Challenges to Liberal Norms
This book addressed the question of whether China’s rise is challenging the liberal norms of international order focusing on the period to 2012. Particularly, it sought to respond to a particular puzzle presented by the literature: that rising powers—as traditionally understood—have two options in their relation to international order, to challenge it or to support it. Yet, in looking at China’s engagement it can be seen as both a challenger and a supporter. In responding to this puzzle, the book makes three claims: first, unlike other works it is essential to set out the mechanisms and processes through which rising power can challenge within institutions and therefore open the black box of international order; second, it is necessary to unbundle the liberal aspects within a normative order and separate out which elements of liberalism China challenges; third, having done these two things it is then possible to trace which aspects of order China challenges, and distil China’s agency from other game changers, to a greater degree than other approaches. The overarching argument from this approach is that China is ‘resettling’ the liberal within order, to a previous interpretation, rather than challenging the whole liberal project.