China’s Approaches to International Law since the Opium War

Journal Article January 1, 2014, Leiden Journal of International Law, Volume 27, Issue 04, pp 859-892

International law is an amalgam of the past, present, and future. The past is important in itself not only because the vast majority of rules and principles of international law have come into being through decades, if not centuries, of deviation, crystallization and consolidation, but also because the past, and one’s perspectives of the past, underlie, inform and explain a state’s perspectives of a particular order or particular norms or values, and its approaches to the perspectives and actions of other states. The importance of understanding China’s historical approaches to international law cannot be understated. China’s interactions with international law began to take place in the context of its interactions with Western powers that culminated in the Opium War. This article then examines China’s approaches to international law during its republican, communist, and contemporary socialist-market eras.

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