China and the Future of Global Governance
The question of how China is likely to shape the future trajectory of global governance is now of fundamental importance to contemporary debates in International Relations. At a time of growing geopolitical anxiety, concerns are rising that China may be seeking to undermine the current Western dominated international order by pursuing its own agenda that is counter to pre-existing liberal norms and practices. While an aggressive revisionist strategy is difficult to identify in practice, it is becoming increasingly clear that China is now playing a more active role in shaping international rules of conduct to align with its own interests. This lecture will first consider some fundamental questions concerning the future potential of global governance, and then investigate Chinese engagement across key policymaking realms concerning food security and the maritime commons. A strong Chinese preference for ‘learning from experience’ rather than ‘learning by principle’ is evident in both realms and presents a constraint upon Beijing’s willingness to conform to binding obligations. China’s maritime renaissance and the changing geopolitical context in East Asia further limit the possibilities for collective action. This does not necessarily mean, however, that the Chinese leadership is intent on subverting the rules-based international order.