Chinese School of International Relations Theory
Over the last twenty years (1995–2015), the Chinese School of International Relations has intensively
expanded its work from making “copies” and “rewritings” of Western ideas to developing completely
independent concepts, some of which claim are flexible and versatile. Scientists from the PRC have
studied Western theories and argued with their postulates, bringing their historical experience, and
philosophical understanding of the imperatives of a traditional culture. In addition to Western rationality,
they offer “relationship”, “morality” and “family principles” as a basis of a new world political space. The
process of borrowing in the Chinese academic community continues but it seems that Chinese researchers
have already crossed a dangerous threshold of intellectual self-colonization and have become “a factory
for the production of international knowledge”. China has formulated the main concepts of international
relations “with Chinese characteristics”, which can be seen as attempts to create its own “big theory”.
The article gives a brief periodization of the development of the Chinese IR Theory and examines the main
provisions of Zhao Tingyang’s concept of global institute of “Tianxia”, Yan Xuetong's “theory of moral
realism”, and Qin Yaqing's “theory of relations”, which today are the main trends of the Chinese IRT
which fit into the format of big theories – idealism, realism, and constructivism, enriched with their own
scientific language and a rich political practice.
Chinese IR theory; culture; traditions; Tianxia system; theory of relations; theory of moral realism; Zhao
Tingyang; Yan Xuetong; Qin Yaqing.
Authors: Evgeny Grachikov
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