China's Approaches to the Western-Dominated International Law: A Historical Perspective from the Opium War to the South China Sea Arbitration Case
The University of Baltimore Journal of International Law, 2018 Forthcoming
37 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2017 Last revised: 18 Mar 2018
Date Written: June 29, 2017
China’s approaches to international law is a representative example of non-Western people’s perspectives towards the Western-dominated international law. How has China understood and interacted with the Western-dominated international law since its modern history? This research aims to provide a historical and evolutionary framework for “China and international law” to reveal China’s approaches to the Western-dominated international law since the Opium War. It is found that China has been interacting with the Western-dominated international law in a reluctant, instrumental and pragmatic way since the Opium War, as well as historically critical and culturally conservative; and the final goal of China’s participation in international society and interaction with the Western-dominated international law has always been national rejuvenation. The South China Sea arbitration case illustrates the growing divergences between Chinese perceptions of international law and the Western-dominated international law as a result of the “clash of ignorance” rather than the “clash of civilizations.” Structural biases and systematic violence of Eurocentrism in the Western-dominated international law and international legal scholarship are integral components of the “clash of ignorance,” and the rise of China could be an opportunity to rectify them with a more democratic and balanced approach.
Keywords: Western-dominated International Law, China’s Approaches, Opium War, South China Sea Arbitration Case, Eurocentrism
JEL Classification: K33
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