Can International Law Survive a Rising China?
European Journal of International Law, vol 31 (2020), pp 1507–1520.
20 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2020 Last revised: 12 May 2021
Date Written: March 1, 2021
The founding myth of international law is the sovereign equality of its member states. How, then, can and should it accommodate the rise of one potential hegemon and the decline of another? This review essay discusses an important new book by Cai Congyan, of Xiamen University, that tries to reconcile an international rule of law with rising powers in general and the rise of China in particular. The larger theoretical project is less successful than a more immediate one, which is describing and explaining China’s instrumentalist approach to the rule of law at the domestic and international levels. Though the tone of the book is assured and reassuring, Cai’s diplomacy at times leaves some interesting questions unanswered — and a few crucial ones unasked. It is, nonetheless, essential reading for anyone seeking to understand how China sees and uses international norms and institutions.
Keywords: International Law, International Relations, China, Power, United Nations, World Trade Organization, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Human Rights, Hong Kong, COVID-19
JEL Classification: F13, F35, F53, F54, K33, P33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation