Humane Authority: Looking to pre-Qin Philosophy for an Alternative to Chinese Hegemony in the South China Sea
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Within the field of international relations, many look to China’s aggressive behavior in the South China Sea and predict a bellicose future. Some say China is destined for revisionist ambitions and hegemonic desires, as all rising powers before it have been. These views, though, tend to stem from a long line of Western thought, dependent on an understanding of human nature and power as seen by classical Western thinkers like Thucydides and Machiavelli. In this thesis, I contend that China could benefit from disregarding certain tenets of Western international relations theory and instead looking to its civilizational roots for advice. I use the writings of Mencius, a Chinese philosopher of the Warring States Period, and Yan Xuetong, a prominent international relations theorist from Tsinghua University, to provide principles of “humane authority” as an alternative framework for China’s rise in the South China Sea.