Governing the World: China’s Evolving Conceptions of Responsibility (Chinese Journal of International Politics (Winter 2013) 6 (4): 329-364)
This article examines, from an historical perspective, how the idea of the ‘responsibility of power’ speaks to Chinese political thought, and assesses its significance to China’s evolving engagement with global governance today. It argues that a shift in China’s global mentality is now underway: from an aversion to taking the lead to one which sees China reprising its role as a global power and shouldering the responsibilities attached to this status in the management of world affairs. But, contrary to conventional depictions of China’s ‘responsible power’ identity as an externally imposed or purely modern construct, the article illustrates how notions of responsibility and the corollary concept of responsible governance are not new, but have deep roots in Chinese traditions of statecraft and corresponding visions of world order. Taking into account the complex interplay between Chinese conceptions of responsibility and expectations of its global role, change is necessarily situated amidst historical continuity, as linkages are drawn between China’s past and its present.
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