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Sovereignty as organised hypocrisy: China’s diplomats and the Lytton Commission

Hughes, Christopher R. (2023) Sovereignty as organised hypocrisy: China’s diplomats and the Lytton Commission. In: Hughes, Christopher R. and Shinohara, Hatsue, (eds.) East Asians in the League of Nations: Actors, Empires and Regions in Early Global Politics. New Directions in East Asian History. Springer Nature Singapore Pte. Ltd., 249 – 275. ISBN 9789811970665

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Identification Number: 10.1007/978-981-19-7067-2_12


This chapter uses the League’s management of the Manchurian Crisis as a source for understanding the meaning of Chinese sovereignty between the wars. It provides a theoretical framework by using Stephen Krasner’s definitions of the four aspects of sovereignty and the two types of logic that actors can use to promote them. The significance of this is explained by using Robert Jackson’s concept of the ‘quasi-state’ to describe China as an entity that was recognised internationally but had little or no control over much of the territory it was supposed to represent. This sets the context for interpreting how its diplomats struggled to overcome domestic scepticism towards the League and use it as a platform to resist Japanese aggression. The main body of the article then looks at he ways in which sovereignty was articulated in the debates on Manchuria in the League Council and how these are reflected in the Lytton Report. The conclusion argues that while Krasner is right to call sovereignty the ‘organised hypocrisy’ of the most powerful states, it is also necessary to do more to understand and recognise how diplomats from weaker states can shape its meaning by adopting effective strategies.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author, under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
D History General and Old World > DS Asia
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2023 16:18
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2024 18:57

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