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Ancient Chinese power, modern Chinese thought

Cunningham-Cross, L. and Callahan, W. A. ORCID: 0000-0001-6103-0586 (2011) Ancient Chinese power, modern Chinese thought. Chinese Journal of International Politics, 4 (4). pp. 349-374. ISSN 1750-8916

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Identification Number: 10.1093/cjip/por018


Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power is the latest publication to come from Yan Xuetong's ongoing research project that explores the interstate political philosophy of China's pre-Qin era.1 This book is interesting on many levels, and has already drawn attention from public intellectuals and scholars in the West.2 This essay thus first will examine the scholarly issue of how Yan and his colleagues are employing pre-Qin thought to make philosophical and political arguments about how China will rise. It will consider the relation of the ‘kingly way’ (wang 王) and the ‘hegemonic way’ (ba 霸) to critically analyze Yan's argument that China should create a new kind of world leadership by pursuing political power, rather than economic and/or military power. While the book translates wang loosely as ‘humane authority’, we will argue that the literal translation ‘kingly way’ better reflects Yan's arguments for a new world order that is determined by the moral leadership of China's political elite. Building on this detailed textual analysis, the essay then will locate the book's arguments in wider academic debates about international relations theory, the role of the public intellectual in China, and the politics of translation. Lastly, the essay argues that the book is geared towards two audiences beyond the academy, to advise China's political leaders and reassure the West. The goal is to see how Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power revives—and reinterprets—traditional ideals to chart China's future as the world's future.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2011 The Authors
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2013 09:01
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 01:21

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