Chinese IR Scholarship as a Relational Epistemology in the Study of China's Rise

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Current anti-Chinese sentiment in the international community has emerged from a knowledge-production background that entails the material fact of China's rising power and ideational factors tied to how the rising China phenomenon is interpreted. The ideational factors can be divided into two groups. One analyses China according to established Western IR theories that describe the country in terms of either threat or opportunity, thereby rendering China as part of an established universal ontology. A second group approaches China's experiences in a more sympathetic light, but still conceptualizes China's rise according to fixed categories such as nation-state. This paper argues that both of these groups are guilty of creating self-fulfilling prophecies-that is, they consistently theorize China in opposition to the West owing to the rational epistemology upon which they built their knowledge or perceptions of China. This epistemology conflicts with the efforts of Chinese IR scholars to evaluate China's rise in a relational manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-275
Number of pages14
JournalChina Quarterly
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Mar

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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