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Title: Is China Spoiling the Rules-Based Liberal International Order? Examining China's Rising Institutional Power in a Multiplex World Through Competing Theories
Contributors: Issues & Studies
Keywords: Rising China ; rules-based liberal international order (RBLIO) ; issue variance ; AIIB
Date: 2020-03
Issue Date: 2020-11-16 14:35:56 (UTC+8)
Abstract: Driven by structural theories of international relations, some scholars have described China as either spoiling or shirking the rules-based liberal international order (RBLIO). The convergence of the relative US decline since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 and China's assertive diplomacy has aggravated this anxiety. This paper examines the theoretical and empirical validity of this argument by utilizing competing theories of social constructivism and issue-path dependence. Specifically, this paper conducts a brief empirical analysis of China's stances on four core issues of global governance, including (1) voting patterns in the United Nations General Assembly, (2) trade and the World Trade Organization (WTO), (3) South China Sea disputes and the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), and (4) the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The results indicate that China has been passive toward the restructuring of legal norms, merely invoking them when a specific dispute arises. Concurrently, China occasionally pursues an alternative institutional platform if the functional concentration of a target institution is diffused and fragmented. In short, the empirical analysis demonstrates the salience of claims for China's issue-path dependence. The paper concludes with theoretical and policy implications, concluding that as China holds no predetermined, concrete stance on all components of the rules-based liberal international order, disintegrating the country from it could be a fatal mistake.
Relation: Issues & Studies, 56-1, p1 - 28
Data Type: article
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