Working Paper No.2000/4 THE ENGLISH SCHOOL IN CHINA: A STORY OF HOW IDEAS TRAVEL AND ARE TRANSPLANTED Yongjin Zhang Canberra December 2000 National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication Entry
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Working Paper No.2000/4 THE ENGLISH SCHOOL IN CHINA: A STORY OF HOW IDEAS TRAVEL AND ARE TRANSPLANTED Yongjin Zhang Canberra December 2000 National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication Entry Zhang, Yongjin. The English school in China: a story of how ideas travel and are transplanted. Bibliography. ISBN International relations Study and teaching China. 2. International relations Philosophy. 3. Knowledge, Sociology of. 4. China Foreign relations. I. Australian National University. Dept. of International Relations. II. Title. (Series : Working paper (Australian National University. Dept. of International Relations) ; 2000/4) Yongjin Zhang DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS WORKING PAPERS The department s working paper series seeks to provide readers with access to current research on international relations. Reflecting the wide range of interest in the department, it will include topics on global international politics and the international political economy, the Asian Pacific region and issues of concern to Australian foreign policy. Publication as a Working Paper does not preclude subsequent publication in scholarly journals or books, indeed it may facilitate publication by providing feedback from readers to authors. Unless otherwise stated, publications of the Department of International Relations are presented without endorsement as contributions to the public record and debate. Authors are responsible for their own analysis and conclusions. Department of International Relations Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies Australian National University Canberra ACT 0200 Australia ABSTRACT International Relations (IR) as an academic discipline in China has just grown out of its teens. In the last 20 years, Chinese scholars have been increasingly brought into global communication about and production and consumption of ideas, concepts, methods and theories of what Ole Waever calls a not so international discipline. The emerging epistemic community of IR in China has been shaped by its engagement with what is purported to be Western theories. In this paper, I tell the story of how the English School (ES) as a non-mainstream approach to theorising about IR has travelled to China. I examine how ideas closely associated with the ES have influenced the IR theoretical discourse in China to date. I argue that as a non-american approach, the influence that the ES has achieved in China s IR studies is noteworthy. That helps validate the global claim of the ES. I offer sociological explanations of why and how the intellectual hegemony of American studies of IR has been reproduced in China and how ideas travel across borders. This is an essay about the sociology of knowledge as much as the growth of IR as an academic discipline in China. THE ENGLISH SCHOOL IN CHINA: A STORY OF HOW IDEAS TRAVEL AND ARE TRANSPLANTED Yongjin Zhang 1 And what work nobler than transplanting foreign Thought into the barren domestic soil; except indeed planting Thought of your own, which fewest are privileged to do? Thomas Carlyle, Santor Resartus 2 Introduction succeeded in establishing a globally recognised brand name (no mean feat for a non-american theory in the second half of the twentieth century). The ES, 1 Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University. The research for this essay was done during my stay as a visiting resident scholar at Peking University in April June 2000 as part of the exchange programme between The Australian National University and Peking University. Among those who helped me with this research in China, I would like to acknowledge in particular the following: Feng Xiaoming, Jia Qingguo, Ni Shixiong, Shao Binhong, Shi Yinhong, Song Xinning, Su Changhe, Sun Bohong, Wang Yiwei, Wang Yizhou, Wu Yong, Zhang Xiaojin, Zhu Feng and Zi Zhongyun. I should also like to thank Adam Roberts, Barry Buzan, and Rosemary Foot for valuable comments on earlier drafts of this paper. The paper was first presented at a departmental seminar on 12 October 2000 in the Department of International Relations, RSPAS, ANU. My thanks to the seminar participants for their critical comments. I am particularly grateful to Chris Reus-Smit, Paul Keal and Greg Noble for their helpful suggestions. 2 Quoted in LaCapra (1983: 5). 1 2 however, still remains outside the mainstream of American IR (Buzan 1999: 2). 3 There is little dispute that the ES as an approach to IR theory is now well established and has provoked serious debates in Continental Europe. The European Journal of International Relations and Cooperation and Conflict have now become two major forums for the ES debates. 4 In Adam Watson s assessment, the best one might say only historical account of the British Committee for the Theory of International Politics is written in Italian, not in English, by an Italian professor, Brunello Vigezzi (Watson in Buzan 1999: 28). 5 Across the Atlantic, in spite of severe criticism about the American unawareness of and indifference to the British scholarship in IR, 6 there is increasing evidence to suggest that the ES has now been taken seriously by the American scholarship, particularly with the constructive turn of IR theorising. Martha Finnamore, for example, sits the ES with constructivism and sociological institutionalism as one of the three main strains of the so-called social-structure oriented approach treating social structures as causal variables (Finnamore 1996). Peter Katzenstein and others clearly acknowledged the strong social imagery of the ES in their discussion of culture and security (Katzenstein et al 1996). And even Stephen Krasner has taken notice of the ES. He argued most recently that the essential difference between the neorealism cum neoliberalism and the ES is that the former explains a logic of conesquences of the international system, whereas the latter, a logic of appropriateness (Krasner 1999). 7 Examples of cross-fertilisation of trans- 3 Tim Dunne (1998: 2) offers a similar assessment: key English School scholars have been no more than a marginal presence in the dominant selfimages of the discipline. 4 For the most recent debates, see Symposium: International society in Cooperation and Conflict (2000), 35, 2: , Little (2000) and Dunne (1998). For earlier debates, see Waever (1992). 5 Professor Brunello Vigezzi s essay on the British Committee for the Theory of International Politics consists of 90 pages and forms the preface to the Italian edition of Bull and Watson (1984). 6 For recent criticism of parochialism in American IR, see Smith (2000). See also Smith (1985), Lyons (1986), Holsti (1985), Richardson (1991) and Waever (1998). 7 Various efforts to employ a logic of appropriateness, reflected most prominently in the English School and more recent constructivist Atlantic IR scholarship on the ES are plenty. In an earlier attempt to bridge the Atlantic divide in the studies of IR, Buzan took the ES right across the Atlantic and tried to establish the linkage between the ES and structural realism and regime theory (Buzan 1993). Theoretical contributions to reconceptualising international society, as Waever observed, have also come from James Der Derian and Richard Ashley, American scholars who are outside of, but closely related to, the ES (Waever 1992). 8 Acknowledging that the ES, as a school of thought, has travelled to and made an impact in Europe and America, 9 however, cannot establish its global claim. How well-known is the ES in other parts of the world? What influence, if any, has the ES scholarship exerted on the theoretical enquiries of other national IR scholarly communities? How marginalised is the ES vis-à-vis American dominance in IR in the global context? In what way does this nonmainstream theory contribute to the overall evolution of the discipline worldwide? China provides an ideal ground to test how the ES and ideas associated with that tradition have travelled globally. In terms of culture and history, China is not only outside Holsti s Anglophone peripheries, it is also beyond what Gene Lyons (1986: 628) called cultural ties and university links that survived the end of the [British] empire. Further, the intellectual tradition of the IR epistemic community in China cannot be more different from the ES in terms of its divergent world views shaped either by the traditional Chinese 3 treatments, understate the importance of power and interest and overemphasize the impact of international, as opposed to domestic roles and rules (Krasner 1999: 6). 8 It should be noted that James Der Derian was a student of Hedley Bull. One could argue that the ES was exported to North America through such a relationship. As will be discussed later, Der Derian (1995) becomes an important, and perhaps the only readily available source for Chinese scholars to access Martin Wight s and Bull s earlier writings such as Wight s Why is there no international theory? and Bull s Theory of international politics, We should also note the influence of the ES in what Kalevi Jaakko Holsti (1985: 94) calls Anglophone peripheries, particularly Canada and Australia. Many central ideas associated with the ES may be said to have been generated from these peripheries. Bull, for example, wrote most of his book The anarchical society while he was a Professor of International Relations at The Australian National University. As another example, Robert Jackson is based in the University of British Columbia. 4 world order or by the Marxism-induced revolutionary outlook of the world. China s alienation from international society since 1949 (see Zhang 1998) plays a decisive role in shaping an entirely different discourse environment for IR, in two senses. First there was no professional communication between IR scholars in China and the West until the late 1970s. There was no shared production nor consumption of theories, ideas, concepts, methods and data between members of the two communities before then. Second, IR as an academic discipline in China emerged only when Revolutionary China was trying to come to terms with the Chinese revolution after the mid-1970s. Telling the story of how ideas associated with the ES travelled and took up residence in China therefore serves several purposes. It tests the global claim of the ES and highlights the limits of the ES as an intellectual movement asserting transnational influence. It helps give a preliminary glimpse at the growth of IR as an academic discipline as well as the theoretical discourse in China today. It sheds light on how China s IR epistemic community is shaped by its engagement with global conversation on IR theories. More generally, it contributes to our understanding of the intellectual history of post-1978 China. This essay is divided into five parts. The first part offers a brief sketch of the encounter and engagement by China s emerging IR community with Western theories of IR in the early years. This will show how Anglo-American IR studies first came to be known in China in terms of their concepts, theories, paradigm debates and perspectives. The second part traces the long and winding road as the ES scholarship made its way into China in the 1990s. In the third part, I examine how ideas associated with the ES entered into and influenced China s IR discourse by reviewing some recent Chinese scholarship. The fourth part offers an assessment of the achievements and limits of the ES influence. The final part highlights different approaches between the American and the British IR community in fostering an IR epistemic community in China. Engagement with Western theories of IR From the late 1940s to 1979, China was completely shut out of the discursive interchanges about IR as a discipline and its theoretical and methodological contentions in the West. Chinese scholars were totally insulated, for example, from the first two great debates in IR (Ni and Xu 1997). The success of the communist revolution in China and the anomalous position that the People s Republic of China (PRC) occupied in international society from 1949 to 1979 provide political and historical explanations for this aberration in scholarly exchanges. International relations as a recognised discipline in China has real existence only in the last two decades (Li 1999, Wang 1999, Yu and Chen 1999). The opening of China to the outside world at the end of 1978 is not only politically and economically significant. The intellectual open-door ushers in a new era in the intellectual history of post-1949 China. Immediate encounters by Chinese scholars with Western theories of IR constitute now part of that history. Two works published in the early 1980s stand out today in China s initial engagement with Western IR theories. In 1981, Chen Lemin, a research fellow at the Institute of Western European Studies of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), published A brief introduction to contemporary studies of IR in the West in International Studies, a journal published by the Institute of International Studies, a think-tank of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In his short essay, Chen offers a sweeping review of the state of the art of IR studies in the Anglo-American IR community up until the late 1970s. He notes the debates and contentions, theoretical as well as methodological, from idealism to behaviourialism and introduces such analytical concepts as national interests and interdependence. He quotes Morton Kaplan and Ole Holsti about international structures and systems and writes with interest (and a little bemusement) about simulation, games theory and prisoner s dilemma prevalent in the analysis of international relations in the 1970s (Chen 1981). 10 Chen Lemin s essay is now widely regarded among China s IR community as the first substantial piece on Western IR theory after The second work was by Chen Hanwen entitled On the world stage: A concise introduction to contemporary IR studies in the West. It was published by Sichuan People s Press in Chen s introduction is brief but systematic. He starts with a discussion of the evolution of IR as an academic discipline. He analyses realism cum power, national interests and geopolitics as dynamics for state behaviour. He writes about theoretical approaches to foreign policy decision making, nuclear deterrence, as well as crisis management. The systems and structures in international relations, interdependence and integration (from functionalism to communication and integration theory) are topics of discussion in the last three chapters. Deutsch, Kaplan, Holsti, 5 10 It is noteworthy that Chen s short bibliography includes E.H. Carr, Karl Deutsch, Joseph Frankel, James Rosenau, Raymond Aron, Ole Holsti, Morton Kaplan, William Coplin and Charles Kegley, and of course, Marx and Engels. Some of the works cited were published in 1979 and 1980. 6 Rosenau, Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye are among those evoked and quoted in the book (Chen 1985). 11 Two stumbling blocks, however, stand in the way of broadening the engagement by Chinese scholars with Western IR theories. One is the restricted and privileged access that very few have to the limited collection of English books, and the other is the ability and efficiency to read English. Understandably, in the second half of the 1980s and the early 1990s, one major thrust of China s scholarly engagement with Western IR theories concentrated on getting to know the state of the art in the field through translation and by making the classics of the field available to the Chinese readership. Two early efforts are particularly worth noting. In 1985, the first collection of essays on IR theory selected by Chinese scholars, Selected works from contemporary American theories of international relations was published in Shanghai, less than four years after one of its editors, Professor Ni Shixiong, returned from Harvard (Ni and Jin 1985). 12 In 1987, the second edition of James Dougherty and Robert Pfaltzgraff s (1987) influential Contending theories of international relations was published by the World Affairs Press in Beijing. Some Chinese scholars argue that the 1980s was a period of opening to and importing Western IR theories. This was followed by a period of absorption and innovation in the 1990s (Yu and Chen 1999). Engagement with Western IR theories, even in its first decade, highlighted the dearth of theory in China s international studies and the importance of theory in building IR as an academic discipline in China. In 1986, an article appeared in World Economics and Politics Internal Reference, calling for the establishment of China s own IR theoretical framework (Wang et al 1986). The first explicit call for a co-ordinated national effort to construct China s IR theory came in 1987 at the Shanghai IR Theory Conference, the first of its kind held in China. 13 The conference was an important milestone 11 Chen Hanwen s book is said to have sold 100,000 copies over the years (Interview, May 2000). 12 Ni was one of the first Chinese visiting scholars to Harvard that engaged in international studies. Fourteen American IR theorists are represented in this collection: Quincy Wright, Reinhold Niebuhr, Hans Morgenthau, Arnold Wolfers, Karl Deutsch, Morton Kaplan, David Singer, Kenneth Waltz, Stanley Hoffman, Inis Claude, John Spanier, Joseph Nye, Robert Keohane and Joan Spero. 13 Significantly, this was just two years after the publication of Holsti s (1985) The dividing discipline: Hegemony and diversity in international theory. for the growth of IR as an academic discipline in China. It recommended a comprehensive agenda for the disciplinary building of IR and heralded the emergence of an epistemic community of IR scholars and practitioners in China. 14 Interestingly, it also provided impetus for China s own interparadigm debates in its emerging IR community. These debates were between the two paradigms of the Western theories vis-à-vis Marxist-Leninist theories and Mao Zedong thought in IR, and between IR theory with Chinese -à-vis IR theory universal. 15 While the former debates have all but dissipated, the latter debates still bedevil IR as a discipline in China today (Zi 1998). It was not until 1989 that Zhang Jiliang, a senior scholar from the Foreign Affairs College, produced what is now claimed to be the first textbook on the Chinese perspectives of IR theory. 16 Broad engagement with Western IR theories in the 1990s continues to enlighten Chinese IR scholars of the horizons of theorisation of IR. By the time the Second Shanghai Conference on IR Theories was held in 1998, 17 there was sufficient evidence to suggest that the gap between the IR epistemic community in China and that of the West had been substantially narrowed (Lu Yi et al 1999). Chinese scholars are writing about and critiquing the positivist and post-positivist debates, the neo-realism and neo-liberalism duel, and the neoneo synthesis, observing and remarking on, not without bemusement, the postmodern, feminist opening of the traditional IR research agenda, and embracing 7 14 The conference papers, however, were not published until Huan Xiang, probably the most respected IR scholar in China at the time and Director of the newly established International Studies Centre directly under the State Council, made the call at the conference to establish an IR theory with Chinese characteristics. See Shanghai International Studies Association The claim was made in the preface to the reprint of the book in It is worth noting that a number of younger scholars were involved in drafting the book. 17 Two other important conferences on the growth of IR as an academic discipline in China were also held. One was an international conference on Trans-Centurial Challenges: The Development of International Relations as an Academic Discipline in China, organised by the Institute of International Relations, Peking Uni
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