This volume examines a series of complex debates surrounding the role of China’s historical ideals in shaping its foreign policy. Presenting and analyzing the works of key Chinese philosophers and prominent international relations theorists, the contributors—prestigious scholars from China, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France—examine how an idealized version of China’s imperial past now inspires a new generation of Chinese scholars and policymakers and their plans for China’s future.

Although a growing number of books treat China’s rise and world view, China Orders the World brings together Chinese and Western scholars in a uniquely detailed and nuanced exploration of how traditional Chinese culture is being remolded into a “Chinese-style” world order for the twenty-first century.

William A. Callahan is chair in international politics and Chinese studies at the University of Manchester and was a Woodrow Wilson Center fellow in 2007-8. Elena Barabantseva is lecturer in Chinese international relations at the University of Manchester.


1. Introduction: Tradition, Modernity, and Foreign Policy in China
William A. Callahan

Part I: Rediscovering Traditional Concepts

2. Rethinking Empire from the Chinese Concept All-under-Heaven (Tianxia, 天下)
Zhao Tingyang

3. The Possibility and Inevitability of a Chinese School of International Relations Theory
Qin Yaqing

4. Xunzis Thoughts on International Politics and Their Implications
Yan Xuetong

Part II: Mixing Past, Present, and Future

5. Tianxia, Empire, and the World: Chinese Visions of World Order for the Twenty-First Century
William A. Callahan

6. The Enduring Function of the Substance/Essence (Ti/Yong) Dichotomy in Chinese Nationalism
Christopher R. Hughes

7. Paradoxes of Tradition and Modernity at the New Frontier: China, Islam, and the Problem of Different Heavens
David Kerr

Part III: Tradition and Modernity in Popular and State Discourse

8. Beyond World Order: Change in Chinas Negotiations over the World
Elena Barabantseva

9. Confucianism, Cultural Tradition, and Official Discourse in China at the Start of the New Century
Sébastien Billioud

10. Conclusion: World Harmony or Harmonizing the World?
William A. Callahan


“A welcome addition to the study of Chinese worldviews from historical and theoretical perspectives.”—Shaohua Hu, Journal of Asian Studies

“This is a fascinating and intellectually stimulating collection of essays. It engages one of the most pressing issues underlying China’s apparent rise in world politics, mainly how those in China, especially inside the elite foreign policy community, view the world.”—Allen Carlson, Cornell University

“Specialists in the field will definitely welcome the book. It deals with a recent trend among some Chinese establishment intellectuals that believe China should make the conscious attempt to shape the world system, which, they believe, is fundamentally flawed.”—Shiping Hua, University of Louisville