The Chinese Journal of International Politics Volume 5 Issue 1 Spring 2012 is published

The Chinese Journal of International Politics (CJIP) Volume 5 Issue 1 Spring 2012 is published.



1、Zhang Yongjin and Barry Buzan

Editor's Choice: The Tributary System as International Society in Theory and Practice 

In their article ‘The Tributary System as International Society in Theory and Practice’, Professor Zhang Yongjin and Barry Buzan interrogates the Chinese tributary system as an enduring historical puzzle through an analytical approach that is heavily influenced by the English School of International Relations and richly informed by the constructivist insight of fundamental institutions of international society. The authors make three key arguments through this interrogation. First, the tributary system is not only a structure of strategic interaction and economic exchange be tween Imperial China and other participants in the system, but also as an articulation of the existence of international society in East Asia, constitutive of a social order in East Asian history and politics. Second, as international society, the tributary system has its own social structure, which embodies complex social relations among participating and constituent states and a bundle of shared and common institutions that helps to define norms of acceptable and legitimate state behavior. Third, the tributary system, as a historically and culturally contingent social order in East Asia, is a resilient institutional innovation by East Asian states as their collective solutions to a wide range of perennial problems in inter-state conflict, co-existence and cooperation. Their broad aim in conducting this interrogation is to contribute to developing historically sensitive IR theorizing and theoretically informed world history.

2、Brantly Womack

Asymmetry and China's Tributary System

In his article “Asymmetry and China’s Tributary System”, Professor Brantly Womack argues that Zhou Fangyin’s article “Equilibrium Analysis of the Tributary System” combines an analytic history of China’s traditional diplomacy with a more general argument regarding equilibrium in relationships between central and peripheral states. Separating these two dimensions, the analytic history is generally valid, though under conditions that confine its applicability to pre-modern East Asia. The premise of the tributary system was China’s centrality in an Asian world of limited international interaction. The more general argument also makes important observations that can be related to asymmetry theory. The East Asian experience illustrates some of the basic challenges and lessons of managing asymmetric international relationships that are now more broadly applicable to the contemporary world. Although East Asia is no longer in a situation of hierarchical isolation, the post-2008 global situation is one of a fairly stable set of unequal actors rather than the mortal competition of the Warring States or the bipolarity of the Cold War.

3、David C. Kang

Authority and Legitimacy in International Relations: Evidence from Korean and Japanese Relations in Pre-Modern East Asia

Is there legitimate authority in international relations? Or can we reduce most important behaviors to those motivated only by wealth or power? Are state interests the same, and self-evident, across time and space? In his article “Authority and Legitimacy in International Relations: Evidence from Korean and Japanese Relations in pre-modern East Asia”, Professor David Kang examines evidence from the early modern East Asian international system and concludes that authority and legitimacy are an essential component of international relations. Diplomatic, political, and economic relations in early modern East Asia were governed by a particular set of rules, norms, and institutions that many – but certainly not all – political units saw as legitimate and authoritative. This article presents evidence from the historical East Asian international system, in particular, Korean and Japanese use of the institutions and norms of the tribute system between themselves. The evidence presented in this essay reveal that the institutions and norms of the tribute system were not utilized simply in relations with China, but that they were fundamental institutions that were widely accepted and viewed as authoritative even when states did not deal with China.

4、Zhang Feng

The Tsinghua Approach and the Inception of Chinese Theories of International Relations

In his article “The Tsinghua Approach and the Inception of Chinese Theories of International Relations”, Dr. Zhang Feng argues that Yan Xuetong’s book Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power signifies the appearance within International Relations of the Tsinghua approach which, based on modern scientific method, seeks to integrate China’s ancient political thoughts and diplomatic practice to enrich modern IR theory and draw policy lessons for China’s rise today. The author asserts that the book will occupy an important place in the disciplinary history of Chinese IR, as it symbolizes the indigenization of China’s international studies; also that it has great theoretical potential and policy importance as a creative intellectual endeavour to make Chinese contributions to international relations both a field of study and a political practice. From the perspective of Chinese IR, the book is significant in having begun a type of knowledge reconstruction of China’s international relations from its traditional resources, implying an important direction in the theory and practice of China’s international relations. From the perspective of the global IR discipline, its significance lies in having rendered the question ‘why is there no non-Western international relations theory?’ somewhat obsolete. For, clearly, the article concludes, the book has provided the rudiments of Chinese theories of international relations, even though these emergent theories will need a great deal more work to command international recognition and compete in the global field of IR.

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