Humane Authority: Looking to pre-Qin Philosophy for an Alternative to Chinese Hegemony in the South China Sea




Strickland, Jared

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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.



South China Sea, Hegemony, Humane Authority