China and International Theory The Balance of Relationships
Major IR theories, which stress that actors will inevitably only seek to enhance their own interests, tend to contrive binaries of self and other and ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. By contrast, this book recognizes the general need of all to relate, which they do through various imagined resemblances between them.
The authors of this book therefore propose the ‘balance of relationships’ (BoR) as a new international relations theory to transcend binary ways of thinking. BoR theory differs from mainstream IR theories owing to two key differences in its epistemological position. Firstly, the theory explains why and how states as socially-interrelated actors inescapably pursue a strategy of self-restraint in order to join a network of stable and long-term relationships. Secondly, owing to its focus on explaining bilateral relations, BoR theory bypasses rule-based governance. By positing ‘relationality’ as a key concept of Chinese international relations, this book shows that BoR can also serve as an important concept in the theorization of international relations, more broadly.
The rising interest in developing a Chinese school of IR means the BoR theory will draw attention from students of IR theory, comparative foreign policy, Chinese foreign policy, East Asia, cultural studies, post-Western IR, post-colonial studies and civilizational politics.
"The authors generate a novel “balance of relationships” theory of international relations grounded in practice, self-restraint and bilaterality. BoR should help US decision makers better understand their Chinese counterparts, but the theory is also usefully presented as a general resource available to all states that choose to adopt a relational foreign policy." - Cameron G. Thies, Arizona State University, USA
"This book courageously establishes an innovative theory that is conceptually and culturally different from existing Western theories of international relations. It also provides appealing reinterpretations of the relationships between China and the United States and between mainland China and Taiwan." - Wang Jisi, Peking University, China
"The temptation when looking beyond “Western IR theory” is to code the potential contributions of thought that is grounded in experiences outside of Western Europe and North America in terms already familiar to the mainstream: as a new “ism,” as support for one or another existing school of IR thought, or as a completely distinct way of thinking about international affairs that serves as a comprehensive rival. This book avoids that temptation, producing instead a detailed engagement with dominant Anglophone IR that is grounded in the Confucian heritage, foregrounding “improvised resemblance” as a foreign policy strategy that doesn’t fit neatly of the existing categories that Anglophone IR thinking provides. The result is a bit disquieting, but for a profound purpose: to explore the tissues of resemblance and distinction between so-called “Chinese” and “Western” IR, and to perhaps afford us a better grasp of both." - Patrick Thaddeus Jackson, American University, USA