China's Participation in the Second Hague Conference and the Concept of Equal Sovereignty in International Law
Asian Journal of International Law (Forthcoming 2021)
20 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2021 Last revised: 27 Oct 2021
Date Written: June 22, 2021
Despite the Qing Empire’s formal inclusion as a member of the Eurocentric community of states by the turn of the 20th century, its lack of full sovereign status was frequently reasserted in practice. This included proceedings where legal norms were unilaterally applied to it as an object of regulation, provoking a pursuit of agency. In particular, the unprecedented foreign occupation and administration of China after the “Boxer” crisis of 1899-1901 spurred efforts in pedagogy, legal reform, and diplomacy. Several such efforts subsequently overlapped at the Second Hague Conference in 1907. There, Qing diplomats for the first time influenced multilateral negotiations, and discovered a nascent solidarity with other “weak” states in both Latin America and Asia. Joint struggle against great power initiatives sparked new conversations about the equality of states; however, major questions about the implications of sovereignty for real agency, and the contingency of international legal “progress,” remained unresolved.
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