Presented by Associate Professor Shahar Hameiri (UQ). 

No debate has arguably occupied scholars and practitioners of international politics more in recent decades than the implications of the rise of China. The debate has primarily focused on whether China is a revisionist power, intent on challenging the international order established and dominated by the United States, including by force, or a status-quo power, seeking modifications but broadly satisfied with retaining the existing order. Available evidence supports both positions, and so the debate has reached an impasse. It has also become highly speculative, with arguments reflecting, not so much what China is doing, but what observers expect it will do in the future, which in turn is premised upon the underlying expectations of their preferred International Relations theories. In this talk I argue, however, that it is possible to make sense of contradictory evidence if we abandon the state-centric assumption, common to all sides in the debate, that China is a unitary actor in international politics. Drawing on research produced by China specialists over four decades and findings from a joint project with Dr Lee Jones (Queen Mary University of London), I argue that China’s party-state has undergone substantial transformation since the onset of the economic reform era, entailing the fragmentation, decentralisation and internationalisation of apparatuses. I also elaborate on the implications of China’s party-state transformation for its rise and others’ engagement with this process.  

About Futures of International Order | Seminar Series

There is a widespread fear that the modern, ‘liberal’, international order is in crisis. Faced with multiple global challenges, from climate change and economic governance to nuclear arms control and global people movements, existing institutions increasingly appear outmoded, inefficient, and at times, dysfunctional. Meanwhile, existing institutional arrangements are being challenged by a diverse array of actors, from great powers (such as Russia) and transnational insurgents to right-wing nationalists. This university-wide seminar series is designed to foster an interdisciplinary dialogue on the possible futures of the modern international order. What challenges does it face, how will it evolve in the face of such challenges, what futures are desirable if it is to meet human and planetary needs?

Scholars are wrestling with these issues in a wide range of disciplines, from climate science and economics to history, philosophy, law, and political science. We invited scholars from all fields currently working on issues relating to ‘futures of international order’ to present in this seminar series. 

This program was convened in 2019 by Associate Professor Jacinta O’Hagan, Associate Professor Sarah Percy & Professor Chris Reus-Smit.


Level 5 General Purpose North (39A) The University of Queensland St Lucia, OLD 4072