The Past as a Prologue

  • Yongjin Zhang
Part of the St Antony’s Series book series


At the 1988 Cyril Foster Memorial Lecture, Sir Geoffrey Howe, then the British Foreign Secretary, spoke of China’s ‘rejoining the rest of the world’.1 To characterise the process of China’s integration into international society in the 1980s as a process of ‘rejoining’ the world, however, begs three general assumptions. First, China had been a member of international society; second, there was a period when China was ostracised; and third, China is being reintegrated into the contemporary universal society of states. All three assumptions are to be examined rigorously. This inquiry starts with a review of the historical process through which China was drawn into the universal international society.


International Society International System Political Community European State Full Membership 
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  1. 1.
    Sir Geoffrey Howe, Cyril Foster Memorial Lecture at Oxford University, 27 October 1988.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    For a revealing account of the British mission to China in 1793, See A. Peyrefitte, [trans. by Jon Rothschild], The Collision of Two Civilisations: The British Expedition to China in 1792–4. Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    A. Watson, ‘Hedley Bull, States Systems and International Society’, Review of International Studies, vol. 13, No. 2, 1987, p. 151.Google Scholar
  4. 13.
    For further elaboration of this argument, see Y. Zhang, ‘China’s Entry into International Society: Beyond the Standard of “Civilisation”’, Review of International Studies, Spring, 1991, pp. 1–15.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Yongjin Zhang 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yongjin Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Political StudiesUniversity of AucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.St Antony’s CollegeOxfordUK

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