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The Rise Of Great Powers And The Transformation Of International System

Posted on:2017-01-30Degree:DoctorType:Dissertation
Country:ChinaCandidate:J C FengFull Text:PDF
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International systemic restructuring has once again become one of the key issues for international relations studies with the collective rise of China and other emerging powers to great power status. China, as the most outstanding representative among the group of emerging power, has naturally become the focal point of attention. Can China rise peacefully? Is conflict inevitable in Sino-American relations in the 21 st century? What impact will Sino-U.S. strategic interactions have on the transformation of the existing international order? Such questions are the starting point and foothold of this dissertation. To turn them into more generalized research questions, they will be: What factors affect the way of interaction between an emerging power and the existing dominant power? And what possible systemic consequences will such interaction lead to?Concerning the above questions, existing mainstream theories of international relations provide answers which demonstrate obvious paradigmatic divides and strong structural determinism. They tend to focus either on material factors or ideational ones. All of them tend to emphasize the importance of systemic structure, be it material or ideational. This has led to the general ignorance of the significance of agency and process of interaction, thus causing three main biases in their theoretical explanations, namely the biases of status quo, democracy, and Western experience. Eclecticism attempts to bridge those paradigmatic divides but ends up in making a theoretical salad by simply putting together the factors that respective mainstream theories stress. Therefore, it fails to solve the ontological incommensurability among those paradigms. To correct the strong structural determinism, agent-oriented perspective and process-based constructivism give due emphasis to agency and process of interaction. The theory of practice points even right to the ontological issue, highlighting the ontological primacy of practice. Nevertheless, they have not shed their light directly on the emergence of big powers and its impact on international systemic restructuring.Building on a critical analysis of existing mainstream IR theories and with inspiration gained from the “practice turn” that has recently been taken in social theory and the IR discipline, this dissertation develops a trans-paradigmatic practice-oriented analytical framework that privileges practice as the key entry point to the study of the emergence of big powers and its impact on international restructuring, by drawing on the theory of practice developed by Pierre Bourdieu, an outstanding French sociologist and thinker and adopting a relational methodology and a macro-historical perspective. This is a three-dimensional theoretical framework that consists of three pillar concepts including international field, international habitus and power position(distribution of capitals) under a particular spatial and temporal context. It argues that international systemic restructuring is a matter of practice, which follows certain logics of practice. From the perspective of practice, international system is regarded as an international field of practices, composed of state agents, international power structure, international order and international practices. International system is the product of international practices of state agents. International order and international power configuration interrelate and interact with each other.The rise of big powers will not only bring objective change to international power structure, but also influence the evolution of international order. The latter involves the in-depth transformation of international system. It hence deserves more attention in the study of international systemic restructuring. The structure-reshaping power that an emerging power has depends on the combined effects of its incarnated international habitus and the power position it occupies in the international field and is realized in and through its foreign strategy and policy practices. International habitus embodies itself mainly in a state agent’s conception of international order and functions as its pre-practice model. The different types and quantities of capitals that a state agent possesses work as the tools of practice, which include material capital, social capital, cultural capital and symbolic capital.An emerging big power always performs in a certain international field, which is a hierarchical structure of power relations constituted by different power positions and a social space of practice organized by rules and principles of that international order. The existing predominant power not only enjoys a dominant position in the power relations, but is also the main creator and protector of the existing international order. It tends to adopt foreign strategies and policies that help maintain the existing order so as to maintain its dominant position and leadership in world affairs. By contrast, an emerging power tends to reproduce or reshape the international order through its international practices which are the embodiment of its ideas of international order.Therefore, this dissertation argues that, under a particular international order, an emerging power’s conception of international order and its embodiment through its foreign strategies and polices are key factors that influence the way of international order reshaping and the direction of its future development. Although the emergence of big powers objectively lead to international power shift, it does not necessarily cause violent transformation of international order. Under a particular international order, the more competitive and less complementary the ideas of international order that an emerging power and the existing predominant power respectively upholds are, the more likely there will be big power conflicts or even big power war, which will especially be the case in an international field where the game of power politics dictates. On the contrary, the less competitive and more complementary their ideas of international order are, the less likely there will be big power conflicts. In the latter case, there will be a greater promise for a more positive evolution of the existing international order.A comparative case study and historical tracing of the rise of Germany and the United States under the Great Britain dominated hegemonic order with European balance of power at the core from the middle 19 th century to the early 20 th century provide strong proof to the trans-paradigmatic theoretical framework to study the issue of international systemic restructuring developed in the previous chapters of this dissertation. Germany, under the leadership of Bismarck, who was well-versed in the game of balance of power, pursued a self-restraint strategy of maintaining balance of power in continental Europe and the policy of alignment. It helped reproduce the balance of power order on continental Europe, which not only helped keep the superior position that Germany gained after its unification, but also avoided conflicting with the core strategies of the Great Britain as the predominant power of existing international system.In contrast, Germany, under the leadership of Kaiser Wilhelm II, turned to an expansionist world policy. It aspired not only to seek hegemony in Europe but also to greatly strengthen its navy power and actively participate in the competition of re-dividing up the world with other big powers. Such strategies and policies were directly at odds with those pursued by Great Britain to maintain the balance of power order in continental Europe and its dominance in world sea power, finally resulting in an Anglo-German systemic war due to their competition for hegemony. Germany, under the leadership of Kaiser Wilhelm II, aspired to replace the hegemonic position and order maintained by Great Britain and to recreate a new hegemonic world order under its own dominance. Such a conception of international order and its embodied strategies and policies were in fierce competition with that of Great Britain, thus surely leading to strong reaction from Great Britain by giving up its traditional off-shore balancing policy and resorting to alignment with other big powers due to its decline in relative power. Such practices were dictated by Britain’s long-held conception of maintaining the balance of power order in Europe.The United States, which emerged to great power status during the same period as Germany, pursued a foreign strategy of isolationist expansion since its independence. Drawing on its historical experience of agonies and hardships by getting involved in the balance of power struggle among European big powers, the United States adopted a policy of non-involvement in the European game of power politics, while actively developing neutral trade relations with European powers and maintaining a small navy. What’s more, it made good use of power struggles among European powers to achieve territorial expansion in North America and later on seeking hegemonic position in South America as Great Britain gradually withdrew from Americas. The strategies and policies pursued by the United States, compared with those adopted by Germany under the leadership Kaiser Wilhelm II, caused much smaller challenges to the hegemonic order that Great Britain aspired to maintain. After the breakout of the First World War, the United States participated in it and became one of the victory states. It proposed to reshape the world order by applying American principles and to establish a liberal international order. American comprehensive and relative power and international influence had been greatly strengthened during and after World War One, which provided it with sufficient tools to put its ideas of a new international order into practice. The United States conception of a new world order and its efforts to put them into practice in the 20 th century has had great influence and far-reaching significance on the transformation of international order, which of course has in turn consolidated and strengthened its dominance and hegomony in the world.Building on the above theoretical analysis and case studies, the dissertation finally discusses about China’s peaceful rise and its influence on international systemic restructuring under the U.S.-dominated international order based on hard power and institutions. It comes to the conclusion that China’s peaceful rise is not only possible, but also is exerting and will have a positive influence on the reshaping of international order. In an era of deepening interdependence and nuclear mutual destruction, violence and war has no longer been effective tools of foreign policy. On the contrary, peace, development, cooperation and positive-sum game have become the main trends of today’s world. As an emerging power, China actively advocates and puts into practice the construction of a new type of big-country relations with the United States which is the existing dominant power, aiming at replacing the traditional outdated big power model featuring “conflicts, confrontation and zero-sum vicious competition” with the new type of big-country relations with “mutual respect, cooperation and virtuous win-win” as the primary rules of game. Such new practices will help establish new models for international relations in the 21 st century, reshape the rules and norms of international order, and thus will have epoch-making significance and far-reaching influence on the transformation of the existing international order.
Keywords/Search Tags:emergence of big powers, reshaping of international order, international habitus, strategic interaction, trans-paradigmatic framework
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