Introduction: Renegotiating China’s Sovereignty in Contemporary Politics

  • Sow Keat Tok
Part of the Critical Studies of the Asia Pacific Series book series (CSAP)


Almost all studies on contemporary China’s1 politics and international relations begin with a simple, a priori assumption: that China holds a “Westphalian” view of its own sovereignty (Johnston, 2003, pp. 14–15; also inter alia, Christensen, 1996; Kim, 1998; Robinson, 1998; Fidler, 2003; Johnston, 2003); this view is “absolute” (Ash T. G., 2009) and in policy terms this translates to a staunch and hard-line stance whenever issues of sovereignty are involved in the decision-making process.


Foreign Policy World Trade Organization International Relation Chinese Communist Party International Politics 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 3.
    Developing a China school of international relations is a project commonly shared between Chinese scholars working in the discipline. It stemmed from general (and nationalistic) discontent over the theories of international relations, which these scholars criticised as inherently “Western” in perspective and not applicable to the Chinese context. Many of those within this camp are in strong support of a cultural approach to developing these sets of theories, and often wrote about international relations “of Chinese characteristics” [zhongguo tese] (Ren, 2003; Qin, 2006; Editorial Team of World Economics and Politics, 2007; Ren, 2008; Fang and Jin, 2009; Wang, 2009a; Xu and Xu, 2010; also the special feature in World Economics and Politics [shijie jingji yu zhengzhi], 2003, p. 3).Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    China’s relations with the WTO merits a separate mention here as its accession to the WTO in 2001 has sparked a rush of academic inquiries about the issue, both in and outside China, such that this body of works arguably constitutes a subgroup in itself by its sheer mass. The number of published works is so large that it is impossible to list them all. But for a flavour of the range of writings, see Nicholas Lardy’s (2002, chs. 1–4); for other examples see, inter alia, Eichengreen, Wyplosz, and Park (2008); Breslin (2007); Ramo (2004); Nolan (2001); Pearson (1999); Lardy (1994); and Jacobson and Oksenberg (1990).Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    It is imperative to note that Johnson (1974) and Myers and Metzger (1980) have approached the development of contemporary China studies from different vantage points, even though both parties are critical of the state of the discipline. Johnson was more concerned with research methodology (i.e. empiricism versus theoretical development) and “the hostility of political science tastemakers to area studies” (Johnson, 1974, p. 560). Myers and Metzger were more interested in the ideological debate within the discipline itself.Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    While the concept of sovereignty per se is not the focus of Leibold’s book, the idea nonetheless weighs heavily in his discussions, in particular of the state and its “spatial-temporal” arrangements (Leibold, 2007, chs. 1–3).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Sow Keat Tok 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sow Keat Tok
    • 1
  1. 1.Asia InstituteThe University of MelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations