World Order with Chinese Characteristics: The Development of Chinese International Relations Theory and Implications for China’s Foreign Policy

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Smith, Stephen




This dissertation critically examines the development of Chinese International Relations theories in the wake of China's rise, the perception of international order held by China's Communist Party and government elites and scholars, and the mutual implication and constitution of domestic ideas and foreign policy. The question at the heart of this project is: How do Chinese international relations scholars understand international order and how is this related to China's approach to international order? In answering this question, this dissertation will argue that social conditions shape the development of international relations scholarship according to locally meaningful ideologies. In making this claim, I argue against the field of international relations as a universal discipline engaged in the objective analysis of an autonomous realm of global politics. Instead, I argue that as a socially conditioned body of knowledge, international relations theory is fundamentally a discourse about who and what the nation is and what its role in global politics should be. For the case used in this dissertation - China and the development of Chinese theories of IR - this has involved a reconstitution of China's role in international and regional order in an attempt to breakaway from Western discourses and ascribe a new locally meaningful identity to the nation and its relation to others. Furthermore, these counter-hegemonic discourses are increasingly being adopted by the state as it seeks to define its role as a great power and to legitimate its hegemonic position in Asia. This study will contribute to debates on rising powers and international order, the role of ideas in foreign policy, and the sociology of the discipline of international relations.


International Law and Relations




Carleton University

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Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Political Science

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Theses and Dissertations

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