Sovereignty and tianxia: Origin, Development and Comparison
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The political trajectories of China and Europe have been remarkably different. China is a powerful unitary state with relatively little economic innovation and relatively little identity change throughout its history, whereas Europe is divided into numerous nation states containing diverse cultures, with relatively limited government and tremendous social and economic change over the course of its modern history. In this thesis I argue that the difference between Europe and China comes down to institutionalized conflict through the development of the theory of sovereignty in the West versus institutionalized harmony through the development of the “tianxia” concept in China. My thesis explores the background, origin and development of the Western concept of sovereignty based on canonical political philosophical texts and compares findings with the tianxia concept of China, ending in an assessment of how the dominant sovereign system could be complemented by contributions from the tianxia concept to construct a world order more effective in meeting challenges in today’s world.