From Tianxia to Westphalia: The Evolving Chinese Conception of Sovereignty and World Order

  • Fei-Ling Wang
Part of the Asia Today book series (ASIAT)


A nation’s foreign policy is foreknowable through a good understanding of its power position in the world, its domestic interest groups and political process, and its conception of world order and strategic pursuits.1 In the People’s Republic of China (PRC), there is now a spectrum of ideas and preferences about world order, competing to guide the rising Chinese power.2 They range from seeking to restore a millennia-old tianxia (all under the heaven) system of autocratic empire-world order or at least a Pax Sinica (Peace under Chinese Rule) hegemony, to striving for more power to reshape the current world order in accordance to the rising Chinese strength and interests while upholding state sovereignty under the classic Westphalia system, to advocating a peaceful and fuller integration into the post-Cold War, American-led liberal world order, which features human rights-defined national sovereignty, growing role of international and trans-government regimes and institutions, and globalizing values of democracy and rule of law.


Foreign Policy World Order Political Order Chinese History Sovereign State 
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© G. John Ikenberry, Wang Jisi, and Zhu Feng 2015

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  • Fei-Ling Wang

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