Diplomatic Recognition of Divided Nations

China, Germany, Korea, and Vietnam

by Yongyi Tao (Author)
©2022 Thesis 184 Pages


The book analyses the diplomatic recognition of individual countries using the case
of divided nations, offering new insights into our understanding of the evolution
of the international system. Combining large-N quantitative analysis and in-depth
comparative study, it is rich in empirical and theoretical material.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Kurzfassung
  • Contents
  • Abbreviations
  • Chapter 1. Introduction
  • Chapter 2. Theoretical Review
  • 2.1. Recognition in International Law
  • 2.2. Recognition in Power Politics
  • 2.3. Collective Recognition
  • 2.4. Standard of Civilization
  • 2.5. Struggle for Recognition
  • 2.6. Summary
  • Chapter 3. Hypotheses
  • 3.1. International System
  • 3.2. Domestic Factors
  • 3.3. National Identity
  • Chapter 4. Quantitative Analysis
  • 4.1. Diplomatic Recognition
  • 4.2. Explanatory Variables
  • 4.3. Hypotheses Tests
  • 4.4. Conclusion
  • Chapter 5. Comparative Study
  • 5.1. China
  • The Unfinished Civil War
  • The PRC onto the International Stage
  • The ROC Survived
  • Summary
  • 5.2. Germany
  • From Occupation to Partition
  • The FRG
  • The GDR Struggled for Recognition
  • Summary
  • 5.3. Korea
  • The Unexpected Division
  • The DPRK
  • The ROK
  • Summary
  • 5.4. Vietnam
  • Division from Potsdam to Geneva
  • The RVN
  • The DRV
  • Summary
  • 5.5. A Wider Picture
  • Chapter 6. General Conclusion
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Bibliography

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Chapter 1 Introduction

There have been a bunch of predications about the demise of the state as a natural consequence of the strengthening of international governmental bodies and nongovernmental organizations, and the increasing globalization of information and economic forces. Marxism predicts that the state would wither away when the workers win over the bourgeoisies and build a classless society.1 At the very beginning of the new century, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri hold the view that while nation-states are becoming unable to regulate economic and cultural exchanges in an age of globalization, a global order is emerging, and it is supranational powers that rule the global system.2 Alexander Wendt goes further and claims that a world state is inevitable.3

However, recent events have shown that globalization backlashed, and nationalism has been reinforced all over the globe, involving the highly developed and developing countries alike. Leading some to worry how, quoting the expression of The Economist, “Europe’s populists are waltzing into the mainstream.”4 It is ironic to see the Brexit Party in the United Kingdom taking the lead and winning twenty-nine seats in the 2019 European Parliament elections. And the rise of populism is clearly not an exclusive European phenomenon. The singing of “Make America Great Again” is echoed on the other side of the ocean, not to mention other populist leaders around the world, like Vladimir Putin in Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, and Joko Widodo in Indonesia, to name but a few. Facts speak louder than words. Globalization is confronting challenges; furthermore de-globalization is fueled by the Covid-19 pandemic.5 A world state is still and remains an imagination, if not an illusion. Meanwhile, the nation-state is far from dying out.

In the era of digitalization, the state will be further strengthened by new technologies. Jamie Susskind heralds the arrival of the supercharged state, which would enjoy formidable power to enforce the law, and be able to predict and/or prevent crime in the first place. And it is very likely that an authoritarian regime could take complete control over the means of force, scrutiny, and ←15 | 16→perception-control, and hence make the society imagined by George Orwell in his 1949 fiction a reality of our times.6

From a geopolitical point of view, Saul Cohen argues that globalization “is the handmaiden of the nation-state system, which influences state policies, but not to the point that it undermines nationalism.”7 And multinational corporations remain subject to laws and regulations both in their home countries and in other countries where they operate. Other writers have confirmed that globalization poses new problems for states, but at the same time it brings with it the expansion of the authority and responsibilities of states, which means most states can do more in this era than they ever have been capable of before.8 And as argued by Peter Lawler, most blueprints of potential world orders require the active engagements of states.9 It is too early to talk about getting rid of the state.

What is more, the state fulfills the cultural and psychological demand of its people, providing them with a sense of belonging and identity. As Edward Said observes in the new decolonized world, to assert national sovereignty reflects the deep anxiety over the penetration of Western culture, and particularly political culture.10

In short, far from withering away or dying out, the state remains at the core of international relations, functioning as the most important player on the global stage. Furthermore, the international society remains a society of sovereign states.

Then what are we talking about when we talk about sovereign states? In other words, who are the members of this international society? Students of international relations might immediately respond by checking the list of member states of the United Nations. Currently, there are 193 member states.11 But this does not include all of the earth’s population. What happens to these peoples not organized in those entities making the list? Obviously, they are not living in a political vacuum. Many of them have a clearly defined territory and autonomous government, but the problem is that their motherland is not recognized as a state by most members of the international society. Recognition might not seem to be a problem for most of us, and the recognition of states has been long understudied in IR. However, recognition is important, it opens “the way for the conduct of ←16 | 17→diplomatic relations, recognition of passports, recognition of a nation’s consular protection of its citizens, trading in a national currency, trading in state assets and debts, acceptance of state guarantees, the possibility of concluding binding inter-state agreements, the possibility of becoming party to inter-state conventions, of taking a seat in the United Nations, and of acceding to other inter-state organizations.”12 Recognition makes a state a legal person before international law. Being recognized as a state means its sovereignty is respected and under the protection of international law. The wider the international recognition a new state enjoys, the more secure its survival.13 In the extreme circumstances, “international recognition is the magic trick that keeps weak states from sinking into non-existence in the modern world.”14


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2022 (June)
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 184 pp., 18 fig. b/w, 14 tables.

Biographical notes

Yongyi Tao (Author)

Yongyi Tao studied political science at the Renmin University of China and Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. She holds a PhD from the Freie Universität Berlin. Her research interests include global politics, diplomatic history, and nationalism.


Title: Diplomatic Recognition of Divided Nations