China and the Evolving World Order: A Stakeholder or a Revolutionary Power?

China’s rapid rise has raised the question if China is a stakeholder or a dissatisfied revolutionary power to advance its alternative visions. This article argues that although China is not a simple rule-taker content to preserve the existing order, it is not yet a revolutionary power discontent with and willing to undermine the existing order. Not only is China far from the position to overtake US power, it has not articulated distinctive values to underwrite the world order. With a historical identity as an East Asian empire, China’s visions of a sinocentric hierarchical order or tianxia (all under heaven) system have been categorically rejected by its neighbors. Embracing the Westphalian principles of state sovereignty while adapting to the emerging transnational norms, China is a reformist/revisionist power, dissatisfied not with the current order but its position in the order. If China’s demands can be accommodated through negotiations with the United States and other powers to increase China’s voice and weight in existing institutions and, with adjustments, tweaking some rules, China would not necessarily become a revolutionary power.

China’s Evolving Attitudes toward the Post-WWII Order

Historically, great powers have been the rule-makers of the world order to reflect their values and interests, weak states the takers, and dissatisfied emerging powers the breakers, pursuing alternative principles to conform to their distinctive preferences. Rising as the hegemonic power after WWII, the United States played a leading role in the construction of the post-WWII order embodied in three institutional arrangements: 1) a multilateral economic system, including the Bretton Woods institutions of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT); 2) a collective security system of a concert of great powers, appealing to both state-centric, system-maintaining instincts and globalist, system-transforming possibilities to replace the old empire system of balance of power, spheres of influence, and secret alliances; and 3) political self-determination, including de-colonization and promotion of self-governing, democratic states to global dominance. As stated in the Atlantic Charter, the post-WWII international system would “respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live” and “see sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them.”1

The start of the Cold War, however, distorted the liberal design of the word order as the United States moved to safeguard a free (Western) world against communism. Becoming the target of US containment, China was a revolutionary state, leaning toward the communist camp against the Western world in the 1950s. But China was not able to articulate alternative values and norms. While the traditional Chinese world order of cultural hierarchy was replaced by Mao’s version of Chinese nationalism under the cover of communism, Chinese leaders faced the contradiction between the universal nature of communism and Mao’s version of nationalism.2

Rejecting the Soviet version of communism, China ironically embraced the Westphalian principles by proposing the five principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence at the Bandung conference in 1955: “The Five Principles take mutual respect for sovereignty as a core.”3 Chinese leaders embraced the Westphalian principles because the historical memories of victimization during the long century of national humiliation produced a deeply rooted fear among Chinese elites about the possible erosion of sovereignty by imperialist powers. The Westphalian principle that enshrined the norms of state sovereignty was instrumental to China as a relatively weak power to participate in international affairs on an equal footing, manage its own domestic affairs free from foreign interference, and coexist peacefully with other nations.

Entering the United Nations in 1971, China started the struggle to adapt to the transnational norms. During the first two decades, China’s attitude toward transnational norms remained very passive and skeptical, and its participation in UN institutions was highly selective and symbolic. It began to gradually converge toward transnational norms only after the economic reform and opening-up brought it unprecedented interdependence with the global economy in the 1980s. Participation in international institutions took place first in low politics issue areas, starting with membership in the World Bank and the IMF in 1980. China became the World Bank’s largest borrower in the 1990s. Both the World Bank and the IMF “provided unique opportunities for China to learn from the experience of other countries in a professional and politically neutral international setting.”4 After difficult negotiations, China joined the GATT/World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. As a result, China was able to follow the East Asian model of export-led growth and became a key nodal point in global and regional production chains.

But China was reluctant to embrace transnational norms on sensitive security and human rights issues. Gaining membership in international security regimes, including international arms control and disarmament regimes and UN peacekeeping operations, China demanded two preconditions for such operations: endorsement by the United Nations Security Council and consent by the government of the host country, the latter of which could only be omitted in a failed state such as Somalia. China frequently cautioned against integrating human rights monitors, judicial reform, police training, and military restructuring into the remit of a peacekeeping mission. Similarly, “the norm of human rights has not been completely internalized in China and is controversial if it is confronted with the norm of sovereignty.”5

China’s adaptation to transnational norms partially reflected its evolving position in globalization. Because the impact of globalization on state sovereignty varies from one state to the other, determined by the strength and development level of individual states, globalization can represent a significant threat to state sovereignty when China was relatively weak. As a rising power, however, China can now participate in the international institutions on “its own terms and reap the benefits of globalization without an undue loss of autonomy.”6

The China Challenge to the World Order

China’s active participation in international institutions came when the post-WWII world order underwent a dramatic transformation. In particular, international treaties, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1976) and the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) endorsed unanimously at the 2005 UN High Level Summit, depicted state sovereignty as contingent on fulfilling certain obligations, such as not pursuing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or committing atrocities. The rise of non-Western powers also contested the post-WWII order because most emerging powers, having suffering historically at the hands of Western imperialism, are dissatisfied with Western dominance in the existing order. Although Western powers would like rising powers to simply accept existing norms in return for a seat and voice in the existing order, emerging powers often diverge from them on the norms, and rules to govern state conduct. In addition: “the Janus-like US attitude toward multilateralism complicates the ‘responsible stakeholder’ scenario. Since World War II, no country has done more to build institutions of world order. And yet, few have so resisted submitting to norms and rules it hopes will bind others.”7

As a result, although the United States has been remarkably adept at encouraging and in many cases assisting China’s integration into the international system, it is not prepared to see China rising as a contender to US dominance. For example, the US-led negotiations of the Rans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are not designed to contain China, but the Obama administration presented them in a way that: “If we do not help to shape the rules so that our businesses and our workers can compete in those markets, then China will set up rules that advantage Chinese workers and Chinese businesses.”8 This was interpreted as “the United States is less than welcoming of China’s integration.”9

It is difficult, if not impossible, for the United States to maintain hegemony for long, given the open and competitive nature of the post-WWII order. Free trade and free capital flows tend to diffuse wealth and production from developed to emerging economies. Imperial overextension, such as the costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, accelerated the diffusion. It is, indeed, true that the US global order has enabled the rise of China and eroded its own hegemony. However, it is too late to reverse the outcome. Benefiting from this process and rising to the second largest economy, China regards the existing order as favoring the United States and its allies at the expense of China’s power aspirations and has become a challenger in many respects.

First, seeing a structural conflict between China as a rising power and the United States as the sole superpower, many in China have worried that the United States has a hidden agenda of pressing on the issues of human rights and democracy to prevent China from rising to what they regard as its rightful place. Beijing has elevated the norm of sovereignty over the human rights principles to which it has formally assented and taken a strong stance against the emerging “responsibility to protect” doctrine and the international human rights order rooted in respect for fundamental liberties and the democratic process. 

Second, as its power grows, China has become increasingly assertive in maritime territorial disputes with its neighbors. Submitting the “Nine-Dash Line” maritime boundary based on historical claims to the United Nations to legitimize its far-flung claims, China has refused to take part in an international court case brought by the Philippines under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which provides not only rules for determining conflicting maritime claims but also legal institutions for impartially applying those rules. Beijing is a signatory to UNCLOS but insists that the court has no jurisdiction, despite widespread consensus to the contrary, and has, thus, eroded existing maritime regimes and rules without either leaving UNCLOS or offering replacements.10 If China thumbs its nose at an adverse decision and a subsequent determination of the merits of the dispute, it will be in blatant violation of the UN convention obligations that it freely ratified after taking an active part in the long negotiations preceding the treaty. Rejecting peaceful settlement of maritime as well as territorial disputes through international arbitration, adjudication, and other third-party procedures, China is plainly out of step with the practices of other Asian countries and the rest of the world.11

Third, Beijing has demanded a capital share and voting rights in global institutions commensurate with its “weight.” Criticizing the global economy’s dependence on a dollar-based single currency system as one cause of the global financial crisis, People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan proposed China’s RMB be included in the basket of key international currencies on which the value of the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR) is based. Gaining the status in 2015 paved the way for Beijing to flex its muscle more in the global economy, a key step in boosting its global role and breaking the dominance of the US dollar, the stronghold of American power. China also proposed to rebalance the voting shares of the IMF in accordance with the growing economic strength of emerging economies at the G20 meeting in 2010. The IMF moved to increase China’s voting shares from less than 4 percent to over 6 percent, and the reforms were ratified by all other members but were stuck in the US Congress until 2015. In frustration, China worked with four other emerging economies and co-founded the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Bank in 2014, a symbolic gesture to create a sort of IMF clone writ small.

Fourth, debating if China should adopt its own "Monroe Doctrine" to establish a sphere of influence and de-Americanization (去美国化) in the region, China has tried to build regional security institutions without US participation to better accord with its interests and preferences. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is the first regional organization launched by China without US participation. Although the SCO claims that it is not against any third country, China played a leadership role obviously with the goal of balancing US influence in the region. President Xi demonstrated a clear intention to exclude the United States from regional organizations when he announced that Asian security should be “maintained by Asians” at the 2014 Shanghai Summit of the Conference of Interaction and Confidence-Building in Asia (CICA).12 He invigorated this little-known regional summit that had languished for years because its membership did not include the United States and most American allies and partners, such as Japan, the Philippines, and Singapore.

Fifth, China has competed with the United States for leadership of regional economic architecture. Negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with ASEAN states as an alternative to TPP, China launched two major initiatives in 2015. One was the Silk Road Economic Belt and Twenty-first Century Maritime Silk Road, known as One Belt One Road (OBOR), which is to bind together 65 countries and 4.4 billion people beyond China’s land and maritime borders to provide an outlet for excess industrial capacity, access resources, and strengthen national security cooperation. Aligning with Xi’s “China Dream” of national rejuvenation, the perceived ultimate objective of OBOR is to reshape the international system and put China at the center of the world.13 The second initiative was the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), officially launched in June 2015 and joined by 49 other founding members. Headquartered in Beijing and headed by a Chinese citizen, the AIIB was perceived “as an alternative to the World Bank and other international development institutions.”14 The United States tried to dissuade its allies from joining the bank but was caught flat when the United Kingdom, followed by other prominent allies, including France, Germany, Italy, Australia and South Korea, applied as founding members of the AIIB before the deadline of March 31, 2015. 

The accession of the United Kingdom and several European countries was regarded as powerful testament to China’s role in the reconstruction of the world order. A Chinese specialist held that although the Bretton Woods system led by the United States made contributions to resolving global issues, this old vehicle was tired and needed reform. US attempts to delay the reforms caused complaints from many countries. China, therefore, launched the AIIB to help reduce the tension in the existing system, provide international public goods, and participate in international rule-making.15

A Reformist/Revisionist Power

To some observers, the China challenge to the existing world order makes it a revolutionary power, but its initiatives do not amount to replacing the existing order. China is a reformist/revisionist power, demanding reform of global governance and more influence as a rules-maker. Challenging US dominance, Xi had to commit China to “firmly maintain international order and the international system to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter as the core and to maintain and consolidate the fruits of victory of World War II.”16 Fu Ying explained that “China has neither the intention nor ability to overturn the existing order.”17 This is not modesty but a reflection of China’s awkward position in the international system.

First, China is far from being able to step into America’s shoes any time soon. The United States remains the most powerful nation in the world, using not only its military and economic might but also its soft power to shape the world order. A Chinese specialist admitted that China may one day overtake the United States in the size of economy but may never overtake its influence and leadership role in the world.18 Another specialist explained that China faced predicaments in devising an international discursive power (话语权): using Chinese discourse, people could not understand and would not accept it; using others’ discourse, China would lose itself (失去自我). The traditional Chinese system (华夏体系) as a hierarchy was in contrast to the Westphalian principles and could not automatically transform into modern discursive power.19

Unable to construct an alternative order, China has insisted on the Westphalian principles, which looked attractive to many countries in an era of intense US interventionism that often ended in chaos and chronic instability within those countries affected. But many of China’s neighbors now worry that, as China’s relative power rises, China’s imperial past may produce undue pressure on its leaders to regain its predominant position and restore the old Chinese hierarchical order. One reporter took a note that at the sixtieth anniversary of the Bandung Conference, the 1955 meeting that gave birth to the five principles of non-intervention, only two notable leaders bothered to turn up. One was Xi, who used the occasion to portray China as the well-meaning leader of the non-western world. The other was Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, who suggested that the threat to the sovereignty of smaller countries no longer came from the West.20

Second, even in the Asia-Pacific region, achieving dominance cannot be a serious Chinese objective because of the presence and influence of the United States, Japan, and other regional powers. While China is rising, many surrounding states are also on the rise. China’s shift from espousing a peaceful rise to far more assertive behavior has made its neighbors nervous, motivating not only US allies such as Japan and Australia but also countries such as Vietnam, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, which were once either enemies of or neutral towards America, to realign with the United States and with each other to balance China’s power aspirations. The twenty-first century has seen multipolarity rather than Chinese hegemony in the region. While many Chinese blamed the United States for inciting China’s neighbors against China, one cool-headed specialist wrote that the difficulties in relations with neighbors were not caused by the United States stirring up trouble but because the great majority of East Asian countries were worried about China. In East Asia, the old rule that economics determines politics lost effectiveness because nearly all these countries closely worked with China economically but aligned with the United States in security and politics and welcomed and even invited the US balance to the growth of Chinese power.21

China’s institutional initiatives will not play a critical role in its rise but are the consequences of its rise. Historically, to bandwagon with a rising power is common practice due to potentially great relative gains. The most successful rising powers have been precisely the ones that have attracted the greatest number of bandwagoners.22 It does not serve China’s interests to have tensions with many neighbors simultaneously. China cannot rise successfully without winning the support of its neighbors or at least preempt their balancing motives. China’s long-term interests depend on relationships with its neighbors as well as with the United States.

Third, China has benefited and continues to benefit from the post-WWII order underpinning stability and economic growth in the world and the region. As one Chinese commentator admitted: “China became the largest beneficiary by taking maximum advantage of globalization…A large part of the world has prospered under such an arrangement (American global leadership)…These nations are essentially free riders, of which China is the biggest and most successful one.”23 Although China is uncomfortable with the United States militarily and strategically engaged in its home region, it benefited from the US security role in the Asia Pacific. Residing in a neighborhood with complicated power competition and historical animosities, Chinese leaders have to be measured and judicious. “The corollary of the decline of the West is not the rise of Asia. It is the erosion of Asia, at least as an idea, as rivalries within geographic Asia overtake the notion of regional cohesion that once bound these countries together.”24

Beijing’s interests will be served best by working with the United States and its neighbors to maintain the rule-based regional order. China often expresses concern over the US–Japan alliance; yet that is part of the regional security architecture that has underpinned the stability in East Asia and prevented remilitarization of Japan. “Imagine what the regional security picture would look like to China if Japan were strategically independent from the United States.”25 Without the US nuclear umbrella, Japan would have developed nuclear weapons a long time ago, prompting South Korea and even Taiwan to develop their own. From this perspective, one Chinese specialist suggested that: “Chinese policymakers and analysts should not believe their own jingoistic rhetoric about a United States in decline. Even if it’s true, a weak America isn’t good news for China.”26

Fourth, facing immense internal huddles in its rise, China is a fragile rising power with profound internal causes of concern that have the potential to derail its rise. The internal challenge “is a far bigger issue for China’s leaders than sovereignty over some barren rocks in nearby seas.”27 No economy keeps growing at the same pace forever. The era of superior Chinese economic performance is over, exacerbated by the environmental destruction, rampant corruption, a growing gulf between rich and poor, huge local government debt, and looming demographic challenges that are worsened by the fact that it would be the first country to get old before it gets rich. A slowing economy has placed huge pressure on the Chinese leaders as resentment among China’s have-nots has the potential to evolve into a concerted challenge to the Communist Party’s legitimacy and authority. Pan Wei rightfully suggested, “Nobody can destroy China unless China destroys itself first (中华不自乱,无人可乱华).”28 China’s rise ultimately depends on its own domestic development and much less on what others do. To ensure its further rise, China must put its own house in order first.

Still a Stakeholder

Although China’s rising power and the initiatives such as the AIIB and OBOR may give China more leverage as a revisionist/reformist power, it is still difficult for Beijing to rival the existing order before China achieves a level of power comparable to that of the United States in the 1940s-1950s and can present alternative values. Until then, China’s initiatives may resemble that of its many antecedents, joining the long list of much-hyped initiatives aimed at transforming the global system but either languished in obscurity or were integrated into the existing system. Still a stakeholder, China’s initiatives represent an assumption of responsibility as much as a declaration of privilege.

This is particularly true of China’s regional economic initiatives. Although OBOR is driven more by China’s strategic ambitions than commercial logic, it is far from clear whether OBOR could support China’s ambitions to build a network of non-Western countries in which China plays the dominant role. China would have to secure support from India, Russia, Japan and many others across Central, South and Southeast Asia to buy into its foreign policy, turning their back on the United States, and, in effect, giving China carte blanche to determine outcomes in a world that bears no resemblance to that when the Silk Road evolved.29 The Silk Road network of land and maritime routes stretching from Europe to Asia’s eastern coast, linking diverse cultures, is to connect China’s historic and modern roles in the region. But the history of ancient expeditions is complicated, with the backdrop of conflict and the push to spread a sinocentric world order unacceptable in the modern context. In the search for political influence, China may find itself tangled in conflicts for which it is not prepared. As a result, while some in the West characterized OBOR as China’s Marshall Plan, Chinese leaders rejected the comparison,30 claiming it was focusing on economic growth rather than political influence.

In the case of the AIIB, Western commentary once expressed fear that China would use it for narrow political and economic ends. With a diverse group of 50 founding members, however, the AIIB has not become a blatant agent of Chinese foreign policy. While the participation of European governments is testament to China’s economic attraction, it comes at a cost to China’s control of the institutions; these Western countries with their active and vocal NGO communities would try to pressure the AIIB as they have done to the World Bank, badgering it to impose restrictions on its lending on environmental and human rights concerns. As a result, the AIIB has engaged former officials from other multilateral development institutions to help craft practical policies on the environment, society, disclosure, procurement, debt sustainability, and oversight mechanism. To make it more in line with the principles of the existing institutions, Beijing has pledged that the AIIB will be "lean, clean, and green" and emphasized transparency, accountability, openness, and independence. “The key reason that China adapted its positions and accepted an AIIB different from its earlier design is the role of the international community. The evidence suggests that the existing system also has the power to balance, influence, and shape that challenge, to check China’s revolutionary ambitions, and to make China play by the rules.”31

China is willing to make the AIIB a multilateral and high-standards institution because it could not only prove itself as a responsible stakeholder but also further its strategic agenda by developing mutually beneficial long-term relations with many countries, an admission of the sobering experiences of China’s bilateral lending mechanisms such as China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China. Through these agencies, Beijing years ago surpassed the World Bank as the largest global provider of development finance. However, the attempt to use that lending to buy political allegiance and to secure imports of natural resources and export markets for its own goods increasingly revealed that opaque lending to unstable regimes was no guarantee of either a commercial or a geopolitical return. Inviting in more experienced lenders in the AIIB reassures borrowers that this is not just old Chinese lending practices in new clothes.32

The AIIB episode reveals that Asian and European countries do not want to choose between China and the United States and want to benefit from working with both Chinese initiatives and America’s initiatives such as TPP. One observer argued that the kind of infrastructure financed by the AIIB is the “hardware” of trade and investment, necessary but not sufficient to deepen integration. TPP, on the other hand, represents the “software“ of integration, reducing trade barriers, opening up services for trade and investment, and harmonizing various regulatory barriers to trade. The competition between America and China to produce better multilateral institutions will be good for the world. “In doing so, the power struggles between the United States and China in Asia have primarily developed around standard-setting through institution-building, not any direct military arms race or trade friction talks, as a new way to dominate the regional order-creating processes.”33 “A race to the top in corporate governance, and not a race to the bottom, it does not matter whether America wins or China wins. Either way, we will see an improvement in the standards of managing institutions of global governance.”34

The rise of China has caused concerns in the United States and other parts of the world that China is to assert itself in its region and further afield and become a revolutionary power to undermine the existing world order. But China is far from the predominant position the United States gained after WWII, and is still abiding largely by the established rules of the world order, engaging in reforms to revise rather than rewrite the norms and principles. The differences between China and the United States are not primarily over the principles of the world order but whether China has obtained the prestige and position of authority commensurate with its rising power status. China may remain so if it is given more room as a rule-maker, in conjunction with the other powers, to reform the existing order, better reflecting its enhanced power and interests.

After all, “the distribution of relative power internationally has shifted with the rise of the emerging markets, a prominent one being China. What seemed the natural order of the post-WWII period when the United States accounted for around 35 percent of global gross domestic product is not sustainable when the United States is below 20 percent. This development does not mean that Americans will have lower absolute welfare or less absolute power, but it does mean that institutions and patterns of behavior premised on overwhelming American primacy need to be adjusted to take account of the rise of others.  “‘Accommodating’ their legitimate aspirations for voice in the international system is not weakness or appeasement, it is essential to a stable international order and to maintain American influence.”35 It is in the US interest to assiduously use the institutions, norms, and regulations it and its partners have crafted to meet China’s reform demands to a sufficient degree so that the Chinese elite would internalize the norms and values established by the United States. 

This outcome would very much depend upon America’s continuing ability to enforce the rules while providing China with enough breathing space as a rule-maker. It would also depend upon China viewing the maintenance of the world order as serving its interests while being able to introduce reforms to ensure that it does. In addition, it would depend on Chinese nationalist sentiment not trumping pragmatism as China continues to benefit from its integration into the global economy and the evolution of the current world order. In this case, it is positive that the United States maintains a balance of welcoming China rising to shoulder more international responsibility while constraining Chinese adventurism. As Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said: “While most Chinese and much of the Chinese leadership are inclined to continue to take advantage of an international system of free trade and openness that has allowed China to develop in its own way, there is another tendency in China, which is to believe that after a century of humiliation, as they put it, it’s now China’s time to dominate its region. And that is a tendency that we check through our strength in the region and through our allies and partners.”36

1. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, The Atlantic Charter, August 14, 1941.

2. Chen Zhimin, “Nationalism, Internationalism and Chinese Foreign Policy,” Journal of Contemporary China 14, no. 42 (2005): 35-53.

3. Jian Xu, "Comparing Security Concepts of China and the USA," in China-US Relations Transformed: Perspectives and Strategic Interactions, ed. Suisheng Zhao (London: Routledge, 2008), 75.

4. Pieter Bottelier, " China and the World Bank: How a Partnership Was Built," Journal of Contemporary China 16, no. 51 (2007): 341.

5. Jing Chen, “Explaining the Change in China’s Attitude toward UN Peacekeeping, A Norm Change Perspective,” Journal of Contemporary China 25, no. 101 (2016).

6. Nick Knight, Imaging Globalization in China: Debates on Ideology, Politics and Culture (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2008), 146, 147.

7. Stewart Patrick, “World Order: What, Exactly, are the Rules?” Washington Quarterly 39, no. 1 (2016): 18.

8. Justin Sink and Carter Dougherty, “Obama Warns China Will Fill Void If Trade Authority Fails,” Bloomberg L.P., April 17, 2015,

9. Amitai Etzioni, “‘Integrating China’ into the Existing Order: Why urge China to join the international order, and then make it hard for it to do so?” The Diplomat, July 1, 2015,

10. Richard Fontaine Mira Rapp-Hooper, “How China Sees World Order,” The National Interest, May-June 2016,

11. Jerome A. Cohen, “Mutual respect for international laws can keep the peace between China and the US,” South China Morning Post, June 20, 2015,

12. Secretariat of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, Main page, S-cica,

13. Jacob Stokes, “China’s Road Rules Beijing Looks West Toward Eurasian Integration,” Foreign Affairs, April 19, 2015,

14. Zachary Karabell,Lead, America, or Get Out of the World’s Way,” Politico, April 1, 2015,

15. 王义桅, “中国在一带一路中的三大担当与使命,” XinhuaNet, July 11, 2015,

16. Xi Jinping, “推动全球治理体制更加公正更加合理,” XinhuaNet, October 13, 2015,

17. Fu Ying, “Under the Same Roof: China’s View of Global Order,” Huffington Post, November 11, 2015,

18. 薛力, “中国崛起的标志: 国力还是影响力,” XinhuaNet, July 27, 2015,

19. 王义桅), “打造国际话语体系的困境与路径,” Aisixiang, August 4, 2015,

20. Philip Bowring, “China’s delusions of regional hegemony,” The Financial Times, August 10, 2015,

21. 杨值珍, “中美关系与中国同周边国家互联互通建设,” Journal of Hubei University, Philosophy and Social Science 41, no. 3 (May 2014), The summary English translation at

22. Randall Schweller, “Rise of Great Powers: History and Theory,” in Engaging China: The Management of an Emerging Power, eds. Alastair Johnston and Robert Ross (London: Routledge, 1999), 10. 

23. Eric X. Li, “The Middle Kingdom and the Coming World Disorder,” The World Post, February 4, 2014,

24. Philip Bowring, “China’s delusions of regional hegemony.”

25. Robert A Manning, “China and the US-Japan alliance,” East Asia Forum, October 28, 2013,

26. Zha Daojiong, “China must see past its own hype of an America in decline," The South China Morning Post, June 18, 2014,

27. Kishore Mahbubani, “Helping China’s Doves,” The New York Times, July 17, 2014,

28. Pan Wei, “中华不自乱,无人可乱华,” 环球时, April 25, 2013.

29. George Magnus, “China, the new Silk Road, loud thunder and small raindrops,” George Magnus’s Viewpoint Blog, May 15, 2015,

30. Chen Mengwei, “Chinese FM says ‘Belt and Road’ initiatives not Marshall Plan,” China Daily, March 8, 2015,

31. Yun Sun, “China and the Changing Asian Infrastructure Bank,” PacNet, no. 43 (July 28, 2015),

32. Alan Beattie, “Europeans in the AIIB: a sign of Chinese weakness,” The Financial Times, March 26, 2015. 

33. Terada Takashi, “Japan and Geo-Economic Regionalism in Asia: The Rise of TPP and AIIB,” EAI Issue Briefing, February 3, 2016.

34. Kishore Mahbubani, “Helping China’s Doves.”

35. David M. Lampton, “A Tipping Point in U.S.-China Relations is Upon Us,” US-China Perception Monitor, May 11, 2015,

36. “The Scholar as Secretary, A Conversation With Ashton Carter,” Foreign Affairs (September/October 2015),

  • Godfree Roberts

    ‘With a historical identity as an East Asian empire, China’s visions of a sinocentric hierarchical order or tianxia (all under heaven) system have been categorically rejected by its neighbors. ‘
    Avoided. Postponed, perhaps, but not ‘categorically rejected’. China’s neighbors will resume their customary tributary status during the next American recession. The British have already demonstrated theirs.