Domestic Politics, China’s Rise, and the Future of the Liberal International Order

55 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2020 Last revised: 23 Mar 2021

See all articles by Jessica Chen Weiss

Jessica Chen Weiss

Cornell University - Department of Government

Jeremy Wallace

Cornell University - Department of Government

Date Written: August 11, 2020

Abstract

With the future of liberal internationalism in question, how will China’s growing power and influence reshape world politics? We argue that views of the liberal international order (LIO) as integrative and resilient have been too optimistic, for two reasons. First, China’s ability to profit from within the system has shaken the domestic consensus within the United States for preserving the existing LIO. Second, features of Chinese Communist Party rule chafe against many of the fundamental principles of the LIO but could coexist with a return to Westphalian principles and markets that are embedded in domestic systems of control. How, then, do authoritarian states like China pick and choose how to engage with key institutions and norms within the LIO? We propose a framework that highlights two domestic variables—centrality and heterogeneity—and their implications for China's international behavior. We illustrate the framework with examples from China’s approach to climate change, trade and exchange rates, internet governance, territorial sovereignty, arms control, and humanitarian intervention. Finally, we conclude by considering what alternative versions of international order might emerge as China’s influence grows.

Keywords: China, international order, sovereignty, climate change, global governance

Suggested Citation

Weiss, Jessica Chen and Wallace, Jeremy, Domestic Politics, China’s Rise, and the Future of the Liberal International Order (August 11, 2020). Weiss, Jessica Chen, and Jeremy L. Wallace. 2021. “Domestic Politics, China's Rise, and the Future of the Liberal International Order.” International Organization. Cambridge University Press, 1–30. http://doi:10.1017/S002081832000048X., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3671848 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3671848

Jessica Chen Weiss (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Department of Government ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Jeremy Wallace

Cornell University - Department of Government ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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