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Sovereignty in China’s Perspective


Yonghong Yang

This book explores China’s perspective on sovereignty. The concept of sovereignty is universal, however, the understanding of it varies in different states and due to cultural backgrounds, history or the composition of ethnic groups. In order to comprehend China’s current perspective on sovereignty, the author connects Chinese historical ideas with the current international society. She locates misunderstandings of China’s past and present which could cause misjudgment of China’s perspective on sovereignty. Hence, the author analyzes China’s imperial history concerning sovereignty and foreign policies. She surveys the cultural, political, administrative and legal roots of the ancient empires because of their great influence on its current political arrangements. In addition, the study examines the divergence between the European and Chinese understanding on human rights.

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Chapter 6. China’s Contemporary Perspective of Sovereignty



The well-known Chinese scholar of international politics Wang Yizhou commented that “Sovereignty is just a historical definition of ‘State’”. Therefore, we must analyze it from the historical perspective in order to understand it correctly. It was born with the emergence of the modern state and it has kept varying and will keep varying with changes of the world system. Sovereignty is also a mirror of the reality, which can reflect the complexity of contemporary international politics and interactive relationships between states and entities552

Undoubtedly, China’s perception of sovereignty reflects its own identity, which is distinct from any other states, particularly from European states. The meanings of sovereignty in various perspectives are never static but are produced and influenced through practices and interactions among states and other actors in international society.553 This chapter generally analyzes the sovereignty interpretation of China from the founding date of the PRC to the present and the different perceptions on sovereignty of China and European states.

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