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Project Details
Funding Scheme : Early Career Scheme
Project Number : 24603119
Project Title(English) : The Development and Influence of Chinese Theories of Sovereignty 
Project Title(Chinese) : 中國主權觀的發展與影響 
Principal Investigator(English) : Prof Mitchell, Ryan James 
Principal Investigator(Chinese) : 穆秋瑞 
Department : Faculty of Law
Institution : The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Co - Investigator(s) :
Panel : Humanities, Social Sciences
Subject Area : Social and Behavioural Sciences
Exercise Year : 2019 / 20
Fund Approved : 592,000
Project Status : On-going
Completion Date : 30-6-2022
Abstract as per original application
(English/Chinese):
Today, China occupies a position of ever-increasing importance in the global economy, transnational policy, and international institutions. As a result, there is lively debate in academic and political circles as to whether China will prove to be a “status quo” power, which endorses the existing international system, or a “revisionist” one, which seeks to transform that system. However, existing discourse tends to focus solely on China’s experience and behavior in the course of its economic rise following the start of the “Reform and Opening-Up” era in 1979. This is particularly true in the case of the relatively few works analyzing China’s relationship with public international law, which often portray it as a kind of recent newcomer (and potential disruptor) to a preexisting Western international legal system. This project challenges that prevailing model, proposing instead that a longer view of the international legal system, and the global governance networks in which it is embedded, reveals that China has long exercised extensive theoretical and practical influence on their development. More specifically, it uses analysis of legal documents, diplomatic communications, and archival sources to clarify: 1) how different conceptions of sovereignty have historically developed in China, and how these have exerted impact on its domestic and international legal activities; 2) how China’s theorization and practice of sovereign power have affected the key transformations of modern positive international law from the early 17th century through today; and 3) the ways that China’s unique international role has historically contributed to the development of specific concepts such as border sovereignty, substantive obligations in international treaties, individual responsibility in international criminal law, and ethnic self-determination. As the project will show, China’s history of diplomatic and legal engagement with outside states features many existing and potential contributions to the understanding of state sovereignty and international order. China’s influence today, via its multilateral initiatives such as the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project, Asian International Investment Bank (AIIB), and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), similarly carry broader implications for the role of sovereign states in an interconnected world. Rather than a “newcomer” to public international law, China is best seen as a longtime active participant in the latter’s historical development and current operation. This carries implications not only for how China’s international role can be better understood, but also for developing a more nuanced theoretical account of “international law” itself, as an inherently multipolar system based on pluralistic influences.
今天的中國在全球經濟,全球治理,和國際組織等領域都處在一個越來越重要的地位。這一趨勢引起了許多學者的討論:中國是否將偏向於“保持常態”的國際角色,還是要“修整”已經存在的國際制度。不過這些討論大多數都是默認的把中國視為1979年以來以西方為中心的國際法制度的“新會員國。” 這項研究項目將試圖以更廣闊的歷史視角來證明中國早就對現有的國際公法理論與實踐的發展起到了重要的影響。主要通過法律文件,外交通訊等現存的歷史文獻進行研究,這個研究項目旨在研究:1)中國歷來對主權概念的不同了解和表現形式,以及其對其法律體系和對外關係的影響;2)中國所提倡的主權概念與現代的實在國際法的互相影響與演變過程 ;3)中國獨特的國際角色與歷史是怎麼對現有的國際公法概念,包括邊界主權,國際條約所規定的國家責任,國際刑事法的個人責任,民族自決等規範起了重要的影響。 中國與外國的外交與法律方面的交流歷史可以讓我們對今天的國家主權與國際制度有更深的了解。中國最近以來的國際影響,比如說一帶一路,亞投行,区域全面经济伙伴关系協定,上海合作组织等多邊的交流與合作平台也可以被看作是中國對其主權與國際公法歷史的繼承表現。最好不應該把中國看成一個國際公法的“新會員國,”而應該視其為現有國際公法的建立國家之一。按照這個歷史發展的視角,對中國在國際公法中扮演的角色的認識以及對國際公法本身的理論建構的了解都將有所改變。尤其是中國的國際公法史可以表明國際公法本身不應該脫離其多邊主義與多元化的思想根基。
Research Outcome
Layman's Summary of
Completion Report:
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  SCREEN ID: SCRRM00542