Conclusion: China and International Society
Whether China has been “socialized” into the international system and to what extent China’s emergence has transformed the international system depend on what aspects of international society are viewed as definitive and how one regards authority within the international system.2 The United States remains the leading power in the world today. However, neither its authority nor its power is absolute. Realist theories of international relations and realist analysis of foreign policy leave secondary powers with just two possible alternatives: “power balancing” that focuses on the maintenance of a strategic equilibrium, or “bandwagoning” that views hegemony as conducive to peace. A third, more distant, possibility for secondary powers is to “challenge” the structure of the international system.3 China’s relative power position in the world is now the best it has been in at least two centuries. China, however, is far from either challenging or “balancing” the United States. Its diplomatic repertoire is broader and more nuanced. But more important, the means that China has deployed to improve its relative power have committed China to institutions and norms that virtually prevent it from pursuing an alternative to the existing international system.
KeywordsForeign Policy World Trade Organization Security Council Soft Power Chinese State
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