Mutual Legitimation

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


In his book The World and China, 1922–72, published in the early 1970s, John Gittings claimed that ‘how the Chinese have managed to extricate themselves from their isolation in the early 1960s to attain a central position in world affairs must be counted the diplomatic success story of the century’.1 By making this claim, Gittings actually asked, rather than answered, two questions which he must have also marvelled at. First, how could China, a recent pariah in international society, become so significant a player in world politics in such a short time? And second, what was the successful diplomacy that helped the Chinese achieve this? If so, Gittings has asked the right question in the first instance, but misdirected his question in the second. The reason for this is simple. Whatever success story the Chinese diplomacy was, China’s changing role and position in international society were determined not only by the diplomacy of the People’s Republic of China. They were also predicated on changes in the international system and on interactions between Chinese diplomatic initiatives and responses to them from other members of international society. In other words, the dramatic ‘ascendancy’ of China in world politics cannot simply be attributed to the success of Chinese diplomacy.


International Society Security Council International System World Politics Diplomatic Relation 
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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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