One of the most notable aspects of today’s geopolitical situation in the world has to do with the fact that, as time passes on, a number of classical notions/concepts, concerned with the theory of international relations (IR), become either outdated or transformed to a degree of beginning to convey an entirely new meaning. For example, the on-going process of Globalisation has resulted in undermining the soundness of the notion of ‘national sovereignty’, which even today continues to represent the actual cornerstone of the international law, as we know it – at least in the formal sense of this word.
The most contributing factor, in this respect, has to do with the fact that the mentioned process results in the gradual delegitimisation of the idea that nation-states are in the position to exercise full control over the political and economic dynamics within the national borders, recognized by the international community. As one of the most ardent advocates of Globalisation, Ohmae (2005) pointed out, “The traditional centralized nation-state… is ill equipped to play a meaningful role on the global stage” (p. 4).
Therefore, it can be safely assumed that there were indeed many objective preconditions for the concept of ‘global governance’ (as such that implies the unification of legal, economic and political rules/regulations across the planet) to be perceived increasingly viable through the 20th century’s late nineties and the first decade of the 21st century. After all, throughout the historical period in question, the U.S. (the West) has attained the undisputed geopolitical dominance on this planet – something that made such a hypothetical unification thoroughly realistic.
Nevertheless, the concept of ‘global governance’ is now itself undergoing a qualitative transformation, in the sense that more and more political scientists use it in conjunction with the notion of multilateralism, which in turn stands in a striking opposition to the idea that this form of governance can be centralised, in the first place. Such a state of affairs has been predetermined by the rapid rise of China, as a ‘regional power’ (perceived as such by the U.S. government) that is on the pathway of becoming a ‘superpower’, in the full sense of this word.
After all, the mentioned development does contribute rather substantially towards the process of this planet becoming increasingly ‘multipolar’, in the geopolitical sense of this word. Consequently, this process results in prompting the Chinese government to believe that China is not so much of the ‘global governance’s’ subject, as it happened to be its actual agent. As a result, the concerned concept is being deprived of one of its main discursive attributes – the Euro-centric assumption that one of the foremost aims of ‘global governance’ is to ensure that just about every country remains strongly committed to the cause of protecting ‘human rights’.
As of today, there is no shortage of academic publications that establish a dialectical link between the mentioned semiotic transformation of the concept of ‘global governance’ and the fact that China’s economic/political influence in the world continues to increase. Because of it, we are in the position to gain quite a few preliminary insights into how both phenomena interrelate. One of these insights has to do with the fact that it was namely in the year 1995 that the high-ranking members of the Communist Party of China (CPC) began to denote the term ‘global governance’ as being thoroughly consistent with the country’s official ideology.
While delivering his speech at the U.N. Conference in Melbourne in that year, Wang Yizhou used the term in reference to what he saw the Organisation’s increased role in preventing the escalation of armed conflicts on this planet (Wang & Rosenau 2009).
The available literature of relevance also makes it possible to identify the main difference between the Western conceptualisation of ‘global governance’ and the Chinese one. Whereas, in the West it is commonly assumed that the concept in question is synonymous with the notion of ‘enforced standardisation’, the Chinese paradigm of this type of governance is based on an entirely different idea.
That is, according to the Chinese, instead of trying to impose the universally applicable rules and regulations upon different countries, the ‘global governance’s’ agents should be concerned with establishing the objective prerequisites for the civilized reconciliation of even the acutest political, ideological, and economic tensions between nations. However, China insists that under no circumstances should independent nations be coerced to reconsider the ways in which they go taking full advantage of their endowment with statehood (Lai-Ha, Lee & Chan 2008). In fact, the Chinese have coined up their own term for the idea of global governing – hexie shijie (harmonious world).
This term implies that, even though the establishment of the internationally recognised arbitration-authorities is indeed crucial for the speedy and efficient resolution of territorial and economic disputes between different countries, these authorities should not be allowed to meddle in the internal affairs of the former.
There is yet another qualitative aspect to how the concept of ‘global governance’ is now perceived in China – the Chinese government never ceases stressing out that even though the so-called ‘Non-governmental organisations’ (NGOs) do contribute towards addressing the issues of global importance, they can never be considered the independent players in the arena of international politics (Safdar 2011). Moreover, China insists that under no condition may ‘global governance’ impede the ability of nation-states to exercise a sovereign authority. This, in turn, explains why China remains highly critical of the idea that the ‘protection of human rights’ should be incorporated into the conceptual paradigm of what this type of governance stands for.
Many authors also point out to the fact that China never ceases to apply a continual effort into expanding the sphere of its geopolitical influence, which can be seen indicative of the fact that the Chinese leadership tends to assess the concept’s discursive implications from the Realist (as opposed to Constructivist) perspective – something well consistent with the country’s Confucian legacy. After all, China’s conceptualisation of ‘harmonious world’ is clearly reminiscent of the Western-born (Realist) concept of ‘power-balanced politics’, which presupposes that a nation’s ability to contribute to solving the issues of global significance is reflective of its economic and military capacities (Yiwei 2010).
At the same time, however, the outlined insights into the subject matter cannot be considered thoroughly enlightening, in the discursive sense of this word. After all, there is a good reason to believe that while elaborating on the phenomenon of ‘global governance’, in general and on China’s approach towards becoming affiliated with it, in particular, most authors remain well within the ideological boundaries of Euro-centrism, as the culturally/analytically biased approach to defining the nature of fluctuating dynamics in the domain of IR.
Therefore, there is nothing too odd about the fact that there is a well-defined weakness to the provided accounts of the ‘cause-effect’ interrelationship between the geopolitical rise of China, on one hand, and the mentioned process of the ‘global governance’ paradigm continuing to drift ever further away from its initial connotations, on the other.
This weakness has to do with the authors’ tendency to assume (at least formally) that China’s stance on the mentioned type of governance is rather culturally than dialectically/historically predetermined. Consequently, this appears to have prevented many of them from being able to refer to the Chinese vision of ‘global governance’, as such that provides us with the clue as to what is going to be the nature of ‘things to come’ in the arena of international politics in the near future.
In our study, we will aim to tackle the problem within the methodological framework of the Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), concerned with identifying the “the interrelation of language and social reality and how the one influences the other” (Schrieier 2012, p. 48).
The rationale for choosing in favour of this specific research-tool has to do with the fact that, as practice shows, just about any analytical article, concerned with exploring a particular IR-related issue, contains a number of the implicitly defined themes and motifs of discursive importance – even in cases when the affiliated authors do not possess any conscious awareness of it. Hence, the methodological approach to conducting the study’s empirical phases – the identification and codification of such themes and motifs (‘clusters of meaning’) and the sub-sequential subjection of the codified data to the discursive analysis.
During the process, we expect to be able to find evidence in support of the study’s main hypothesis – China’s stance on ‘global governance’ signifies that the world has entered the era of geopolitical ‘multipolarity’, which in turn should result in undermining the concept’s overall methodological soundness, and in legitimising once again much-criticized Realist theory of IR.
Review of literature
In this part of the study, we focus on providing the general overview of the main ideas contained in the articles that will be subjected to the Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) through the study’s sub-sequential phases. The rationale behind this particular inquisitive move, on our part, has to do with the fact that, in full accordance with the methodological provisions of the grounded theory (GT) research, we will need to identify the main theoretical premises, promoted by the would-be analysed articles.
During the study’s analytical part, these premises will be compared with yet to be defined implicit ‘clusters of meaning’ – hence, allowing us to gain some preliminary insights into whether the currently dominant views on the significance of China’s participation in ‘global governance’ correlate with those that derive out of the domain of the authors’ unconscious. Consequently, this should enable us to elaborate on whether the currently deployed theoretical approaches towards tackling the phenomenon of ‘global governance’, in general, and the role of China in the concept’s qualitative transformation, in particular, are discursively sound.
The articles chosen for the analysis are as follows: Wang & Rosenau (2009) “China and global governance”; Yiwei (2010) “Clash of identities: why China and the EU are inharmonious in global governance”; Hou (2013) “The BRICS and global governance reform: can the BRICS provide leadership?”; Hongsong (2014) “China’s proposing behaviour in global governance: the cases of the WTO Doha round negotiation and G-20 process”; Lai-Ha, Lee & Chan (2008) “Rethinking global governance: a China model in the making?”; Shield (2013) “The middle way: China and global economic governance”; Weaver (2015) “The rise of China: continuity or change in the global governance of development?”; Weizhun (2014) “Muddle or march: China and the 21st century Concert of Powers”; Grun (2008) “The crisis of global governance”; Dobson (2010) “History matters: China and global governance”.
The main criteria for choosing the mentioned articles to be subjected to CDA were their comparative recentness, their discursive relevance, and their ideological consistency with each other (the authors tend to assess China’s stance on ‘global governance’ from the essentially Euro-centric perspective).
The following are the main theoretical premises, shared by the authors of the yet-to-be analysed articles. These premises serve as the discursive foundation for the lines of argumentation deployed by the authors – regardless of what happened to be the nature of the affiliated argumentative claims.
- The emergence of the ‘global governance’ concept has been predetermined by the objective laws of history. As viewed by the authors, the on-going process of Globalization naturally results in bringing about the situation when the pressing issues of economic, environmental and societal importance, faced by just about every country, can no longer be addressed on a regional/national level. As Hongsong (2014) noted, “By creating and acting through various international institutions, states manage global issues beyond borders collectively, thus construct and maintain global order” (p. 121). In its turn, this explains the strongly defined Constructivist sounding of the articles in question. The authors do subscribe to the idea that the consideration of being able to contribute to the overall well-being of humanity did play an important role, within the context of how the Chinese governmental officials proceed to make practical use of the concept of ‘global governance’.
- By assuming the role of the agent of ‘global governance’, China exhibits its willingness to play by the Western-set ‘rules of the game’ – at least in the formal sense of this word. This idea is explored throughout the entirety of each of the mentioned articles, including the most controversial ones (because of the contained criticisms of the Western outlook on what ‘global governance’ is all about), such as the ones by Wang and Rosenau (2009) and Grun (2008). For example, according to Wang and Rosenau (2009), “The Chinese government has actively coordinated its policies with other countries… China has come to accept the prevailing (Western) international rules and norms in various issue areas” (p. 8). As the clearest indication that this indeed happened to be the case, the authors refer to the fact that, as time goes on, China strives to strengthen its influence in a number of international organizations, such as the UN, IMF and WTO. At the same time, however, most authors do admit that China’s agenda, in this respect, is practically driven. As noted by Hou (2013), “China wishes to extract as many practical beneﬁts as possible from their engagement with the international order while giving up as little decision-making autonomy as possible” (p. 359). In its turn, this is being explained by both: the fact that China is associated with Confucian cultural/philosophical legacy, on one hand, and the fact that the history of China’s relations with the West naturally makes this country to mistrust the former, on the other.
- China’s approach to ‘global governance’ is deeply holistic, in the sense that the Chinese take into consideration the would-be ‘cause-effect’ repercussions of tackling global issues in the internationally cooperative manner. Just as it was implied in the Introduction, China refrains from referring to the task of solving the most pressing global problems (such as ‘global warming’ or ‘international terrorism’) within the methodological framework of Euro-centrism (Faustianism), based on the assumption that ‘the end justifies the means’ – the idea that is being promoted by each article. In its turn, this explains why the chosen academic materials contain either explicit or implicit references to the earlier mentioned concept of ‘harmonious world’ – the Chinese equivalent of the Western-coined term ‘global governance’ (Weaver 2015). What the authors agree upon is that the doctrine of ‘harmonious world’, as seen by the Chinese, can be linked to the legacy of Confucianism. As Lai-Ha, Lee and Chan (2008) pointed out: “The ‘doctrine of holism’ derives from some Chinese philosophical appreciation of comprehensiveness of and balance in nature” (p. 5). It is understood, of course, that the assumption that China is committed to building ‘harmonious world’ because of some ethical considerations, on its part, contributes even further towards legitimizing the Constructivist outlook on the nature of geopolitical dynamics in today’s world. Moreover, it encourages readers to believe that the specifics of China’s stance on the issues of global significance cannot be discussed outside of what account for the workings of one’s ‘Oriental’ mentality.
- China is still a developing country, and its geopolitical ambitions are mainly concerned with the country’s strive to expand the sphere of its regional influence. Even though most authors do point out to the fact that China’s geopolitical influence continues to grow exponentially, they nevertheless continue to insist that this country’s interests are regionally bounded – not the least because China has not attained the status of a fully developed nation. This in turn presupposes that China continues to depend on other countries, within the context of how it manages its domestic politics, on one hand, and its foreign policies, on the other – the main reason why the Chinese leaders decided to adopt a favourable stance towards the concept of ‘global governance’, in the first place. As Yiwei (2010) pointed out, “The rising Chinese power is not just an independent power which China can use freely but a structural power depending on the world” (p. 104). The same idea defines the discursive sounding of other selected articles, as well. This, in turn, can be seen as the indication that while tackling the subject matter, their authors continued to assess the rise of China and its ‘global governance’-related aspirations in the essentially phenomenological terms, which can be interpreted as yet another sign of the provided argumentative claims being ideologically biased to an extent.
- There is an objective need for the concept of ‘global governance’ to be readjusted to correlate with the realities of the 21st century’s living. Because the U.S. can no longer be considered the only hegemonic power in the world, the concept in question presupposes that the world’s most influential countries must be willing to subdue their selfish (national) interests so that there may be the lasting period of peace on Earth. This idea refers to the early 20th century’s notion of the ‘concert of powers’, descriptive of the situation when it was solely up to Britain, Germany, France and Russia to preserve peace – despite the fact that these countries never ceased to remain mutually antagonistic. The state of ‘concert of powers’ also existed throughout the era of the Cold War. According to Weizhun (2014), “’Concert’ was applied to indicate security relations among Great Powers, or regarded as one type of regional multilateral security regimes with alliance, cooperative security, and collective security” (p. 247). It is understood, of course, that the mentioned idea stands in a striking opposition to the Constructivist assumption that the agents of ‘global governance’ will operate in the essentially ‘borderless’ (due to Globalisation) world.
The approach that we utilized to identify the ‘clusters of meaning’ in the selected articles is thoroughly consistent with the theoretical prerequisites of CDA, as such, that accentuate that just about any public discourse reflects the never-ending process of the well-established discursive assumptions being challenged by the ideas that seek to attain a discursive dominance. As Wodak (2006) argued, “CDA is fundamentally interested in analysing opaque as well as transparent structural relationships of dominance, discrimination, power and control when these are manifested in language” (p. 53).
The appropriateness of choosing in favour of this specific approach to analysing the selected articles can be illustrated, with respect to the fact that the very notion of ‘governance’ presupposes its agents’ willingness to exercise a coercive authority while managing public/international affairs – quite despite the main discursive implication of ‘global governance’, as such that presupposes the absence of the element of coercion, within the context of how different countries participate in it.
The above-stated implies that there is indeed a phenomenological quality to the questions of what accounts for China’s role in contributing to the methodological transformation of the concept of ‘global governance’ – something that once again justifies the deployment of CDA as the study’s analytical tool. Hence, the main subtlety of how we approached the task of identifying the semiotic ‘clusters of meaning’ in the chosen articles – our main objective, in this respect, was to pinpoint the explicitly and implicitly expressed ideas as to how China’s geopolitical power affects our understanding of the concept in question.
The validity of the selected analytical method can also be confirmed, regarding the highly systemic intricacies of the ‘global governance’–related public discourse, as such that has the notion of ‘power’ deeply imbedded in its very conceptual core – even though many of the discourse’s participants often tend to downplay this fact. Hence, yet another rationale for choosing in favour of CDA – this specific type of analysis does not only allow the identification of the emergent themes and motifs on each article’s individual level but also on a much higher ‘synthesised’ (systemic) level of all ten articles being tackled as mutually interrelated. In its turn, this made it possible for us apply inquisitive inquiry in the selected articles, as a ‘whole’ – something that resulted in yielding a number of valuable insights into the subject matter in question.
The identification of the sought-for ‘clusters of meaning’ was accomplished by the mean of rereading each individual article and assigning the detected themes and motifs with specific codes, reflective of what has been determined the semiotic implications of the former. In the aftermath of the process’s completion, the assigned codes were clustered in groups and sub-groups – hence, making it possible for us to gain some spatially sound insights into the qualitative aspects of the emerged pattern.
Because the proposed approach to gathering the data is rather time-consuming, the decision was made to take advantage of the OpenCode software, as such that simplifies the process of the qualitative data being codified and ensures that the latter is collected in an error-proof manner. The preparatory phase involved converting the chosen articles (which initially came in the.pdf format) into text-files.
The theoretical premise behind the deployed data-gathering methodology was based on the assumption that while elaborating on the issue of China’s role in bringing about the qualitative makeover of ‘global governance’, the authors never ceased being affected by their own unconscious anxieties, regarding the practical implications of the process in question. In its turn, this implies that there are more semiotic connotations to the promoted ideas, on the authors’ part, than it may initially appear.
After having determined and codified the main themes and motifs (contained in the selected articles), we proceeded to categorise them as such that correlate with different theories of IR and with the synthesised essence of the authors’ own understanding of what the paradigm of ‘global governance’ will begin to stand for in the future. In its turn, this allowed us to reveal the earlier mentioned ‘clusters of meaning’ in each of the analysed articles, as well as the associated discursive contents of these clusters. As a result, we were able to ascertain the presence of such clusters in all ten articles and to confirm the legitimacy of the suggestion that, even though most authors did diverge in their interpretations of ‘global governance’, the concerned academic commentaries can be referred to as one ‘synthesised whole’.
Thus, there is indeed a good reason in assuming that the conducted analysis should be deemed enlightening, in the sense of being able to contribute towards deepening our awareness of what accounts for the relationship between the modern discourse of ‘global governance’, on one hand, and the current dynamics in the domain of IR, on the other.
After having analysed the chosen articles within the methodological framework of the CDA, we were able to assign the following codes to the continually recurring themes and motifs (often inconsistent with each other), articulated (either explicitly or implicitly) by the authors:
China’s take on GG (Multilateralism), GG=Western/American imperialism, China helps developing countries, China complies with Western rules, The clash between China and the US is inevitable, China mistrusts the West, Economic/geopolitical decline of the West,
The rise of China’s economy/geopolitical power, Worlds economy needs to be reformed, China challenges the hegemony of the US/USD, ‘Harmonious world’/Holism, China praises non-interference, China seeks to expand its geopolitical influence, CoP (Concert of Powers), China’s opposes the West on GG, BRICS/China’s alternative, China has a practical interest in GG, State-centrism, China is still a developing country, China should ‘liberalise’ its economy (Western perspective), China is now international creditor, China’s Confucian/imperia legacy, China strives to strengthen its ‘soft power, China is still weak, China wants the UN to promote multilateralism, Necessity to reform the WTO/IMF, Western criticism of China, GG is initially Western (Neo-Liberal) concept, The US is determined to break international law, Non-state actors/dialogues/cooperation (Western perspective), China challenges the IMF, Westphalian system is ‘ineffective’ (Western perspective), The impending clash between China and the US, Socialism is China’s identity, GG defies Westphalian system (Western perspective), China practices economic protectionism, Only the Western concept of GG is valid, GG presupposes decentralisation, The effects of Globalisation are objective, Cooperation with NGOs, China criticizes G20, China opposes Trans-Pacific Partnership, China aspires to win its place under the Sun, China is economically interdependent with the US, China/Third way, The US strives to maintain its hegemony, China develops military capacities, Neo-Liberalism=corporate greed, China is interested to cooperate with the EU, China is informally allied with Russia, China is willing to change its ways, The UN has failed (Western prospective), Cooperation between the East and the West, China is a ‘fragile superpower’, The US is happy with China, China opposes America’s claim to exclusivity, China promotes peace, China prioritises domestic economic development, China is aggressive country, China is a fully developed nation, Financial crisis of 2008 was ‘natural’ (Western perspective), GG is a theoretically fallacious concept, GG is in the state of crisis, GG is transforming, China’s nationhood is still forming, The EU tries to break away from the US, NGOs = agents of Western influence, Simplicity/practicability/accountability, The rise of geopolitical tensions in the world. (The abbreviation GG stands for ‘global governance’).
Subsequently, it was determined that these codes fall into four distinctive categories (‘clusters of meaning’), broadly designated as such that belong to the discursive domains of ‘Realpolitik’ and ‘Constructivism’, on one hand, and as such that, although appearing to be ideologically unengaged, nevertheless do help us to get a better understanding of what will come of the concept of ‘global governance’ in the future, on the other.
The latter two categories were designated as ‘GG must be reconceptualised’ and ‘Miscellaneous’. The first group of the codified themes/motifs adhere to the main postulate of the Realist model of IR, concerned with the assumption that the dynamics in the arena of international politics are defined by the never-ending competition between nation-states for territory and human/resources, and that war is the most natural key to solving geopolitical tensions between different countries.
This specific ‘cluster of meaning’ presupposes that the concept of ‘global governance’ is nothing but yet another discursive euphemism, deployed by the West to justify its intention to keep the so-called ‘developing’ countries in the state of economic/political submission while robbing them of a chance to become fully developed. As Bew (2014) noted, “(Realpolitik) denotes an unflinching and non-ideological approach to statecraft and the primacy of the raison d’état. It involves an intuitive suspicion of grandstanding and moralizing on the international stage” (p. 49).
At the opposite pole is the category of ‘Constructivism’, containing the codified references to the idea that it is not only that the discussed concept is thoroughly valid, but also that it is namely the Western (’nationless’/post-industrial) interpretation of ‘global governance’ that should be considered the only legitimate one. According to Bobulescu (2011), “In the Constructivist perspective, the change in (nation’s) interest is not only the result of constraints and opportunities in the international context but also the result of an endogenous shift in identities… States’ identities and interests are not given and fixed” (p. 53).
Most commonly, these references imply that the very idea of statehood (in the classical ‘Westphalian’ sense of this word) has grown hopelessly outdated and that ‘developing’ countries (including China) will be able to benefit from cooperating with such international organisations as the UN, IMF, WTO, and with the so-called ‘Non-governmental organisations’ (NGOs).
The codified themes/motifs belonging to the ‘GG must be reconceptualised’ and ‘Miscellaneous’ categories, do not seem to be ideologically-driven (at least formally). However, most of them are used within the clearly defined Realist context, which implies that China’s influence on the changing nature of ‘global governance’ is mostly concerned with undermining the concept’s validity from within. The table below represents the statistical pattern of the codified elements’ occurrence (in all ten articles) and shows how these elements interrelate with the designated ‘clusters of meaning’ (categories), described earlier:
As it can be seen in it, in three instances the identified semiotic references connoting ‘Realpolitik’ and ‘GG must be reconceptualised’ overlap. The following represents the typical example of such a reference: “Global governance will always be subordinate to domestic concerns, and China’s engagement with the global economic governance system will be strictly based on a realpolitik calculation of the national interest” (Shield 2013, p. 150).
The table also shows that the tagged codes conveying the message ‘Realpolitik’ are most numerous, with their number accounting for 154. These codes refer to the idea that the term ‘global governance’ is synonymous with the notion of ‘Western imperialism’, and that by claiming itself to be affiliated with it, China aims for nothing less than destroying Western hegemonic dominance in the world – pure and simple.
The reaching of such an objective the Chinese government considers being the main precondition for the country to be able to remain on the path of development. The following statement typifies these references, “This (Western) model (of ‘global governance’) has led entire nations into greater poverty, debt, and bankruptcy while, at the same time, the natural resources and endowments of nations and continents are being stolen under the auspices of U.S. corporations” (Grun 2008, p. 50). The ‘Realpolitik’ suggestions, presented in each article, hint at the sheer impossibility for the concept of ‘global governance’ to prove beneficial to humanity in its present form, since there is no ‘unified humanity’ to speak of, in the first place – China’s positioning in the arena of international politics implies that the Chinese leaders understand this fact perfectly well.
The second largest ‘cluster of meaning’ has been designated ‘GG must be reconceptualised’, with the number of the associated codes accounting for 94. As a rule, the tagged parts of the text belonging to this specific category, reveal the affiliated authors’ belief that there is something innately wrong with how ‘global governance’ extrapolates itself in practice. The codified suggestions that fall into this category also imply that there is indeed a pressing need for this concept to be transformed into something that will not only serve the interests of the West, but also the interests of the ‘global periphery’.
For example, according to Lai-Ha, Lee and Chan (2008), “China perceives global governance as an international means to building an inclusive international society in which nation-states of diverse cultures, ideologies and politico-economic systems can coexist in peace and harmony” (p. 15), which in turn explains why, according to the same authors, “China refrains from basing its offer of aid and loans to Third World countries on the condition that liberal reforms are to be undertaken” (p. 16).
Nevertheless, the provided table also shows that there is a much discursive similarity between the codified elements belonging to both of the above-mentioned ‘clusters of meaning’. This can be interpreted as the indication that there is indeed a good reason to think that China’s contribution towards inducing the qualitative transformation of the concept of ‘global governance’ is mainly concerned with exposing the erroneousness of Constructivist assumptions, as to what this type governance stands for.
Nevertheless, while analysing the chosen articles, we were also able to detect and codify the themes and motifs that do correlate with the Constructivist theory of IR. The most emblematic of them have to do with some authors’ promotion of the idea that China does comply with the Western-based rules and regulations of ‘global governance’. In its turn, this implies that, in full accordance with the theory’s provisions, China is in the process of adopting a new (highly Westernised) national identity – something that prompts the Chinese government to be willing to cooperate with the West and to implement free-market reforms, recommended by the WTO.
For example, according to Dobson (2010), “The 15-year negotiation to join the World Trade Organization was instrumental in China‘s acceptance of the global rules of the road and a major driver of domestic policy reforms to change the planned economy, its institutions and its managers into more market-oriented ones” (p. 3). At the same time, however, the number of the identified ‘Constructivist’ references throughout the entirety of all ten articles does not appear to be particularly substantial – 45.
We were also able to codify what have been deemed the ‘Miscellaneous’ semiotic references of relevance (6), which nevertheless seem to correlate with the ‘Constructivist’ ones in one way or another. Most of them are concerned with encouraging readers to think that China is far from being considered fully developed, in the economic and cultural senses of this word.
The OpenCode software made it possible for us to construct the so-called ‘synthesis tree’ (as seen below), which shows the earlier identified ‘clusters of meaning’, in relation to their varying ability to contribute towards triggering the qualitative transformation of ‘global governance’, on one hand, and towards impeding the process, on the other.
The obtained findings point out to the fact that there is indeed a certain inconsistency between what have been determined the theoretical premises of the selected articles and the discursive significance of the majority of the tagged semiotic references. After all, whereas just about every of these premises appear to correlate with the spirit of Constructivism in IR, the same cannot be said about most of the codified ‘clusters of meaning’.
The reason for this is apparent – as it was established earlier, the bulk of the latter are endowed with the clearly defined Realist sounding. We can speculate that the mentioned inconsistency has to do with the fact that, while elaborating on ‘global governance’, in general, and on the varying aspects of China’s participation in it, in particular, the authors strived to remain observant of the provisions of the currently dominant socio-political discourse in the West. In its turn, this discourse draws rather heavily from the ideology of neo-Liberalism, on one hand, and the Constructivist theory of IR, on the other.
Therefore, it does not come as a particular surprise that most of the analysed articles (with the possible exemption of the one by Dobson) do subscribe to the idea that, despite its apparent deficiencies, the concept of ‘global governance’ (in its present form) is thoroughly valid. The discursive analysis of the selected articles, however, points out to the opposite, as the overwhelming majority of the codified themes and motifs reveal the authors’ subliminal anxieties/suspicions about the probability for China’s formal willingness to indulge in ‘global governance’ (while playing by the Western-set rules of the game) to serve the purpose of concealing this country’s ‘Realpolitik’ agenda.
Based on the findings of the earlier conducted CDA, the study’s initially posed questions can be answered as follows:
- China contributes to the process of the notion of ‘global governance’ undergoing a discursive transformation in the sense of making it clear to the U.S. that it is no longer in the position to break the international law in the most blatant manner – just as this country used to do through the 20th century’s nineties and the early 2000s. China establishes the alternative international institutions of ‘global monetary governance’, such as AIIB, and forms political/economic alliances with countries that openly oppose the continuation of Pax Americana (BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation).
- The reason why the Chinese conceptualisation of ‘global governance’ does diverge from the Western one rather substantially has to do with both:
- The historical legacy of this country having been mercilessly exploited by the West in the late 19th century under the excuse that this helped the Chinese to enjoy ‘democracy’ (Opium Wars).
- The fact that being one of the world’s few truly independent countries (along with the U.S., Britain, and Russia), China is perfectly aware that the political dynamics on this planet reflect the geopolitical ‘balance of powers’ or the absence of such a balance.
- The principle of multilateralism defines the methodological subtleties of China’s take on ‘global governance’ because the country’s government adheres to the Realist provisions of conducting foreign affairs. Since it is thoroughly natural for every country to be preoccupied with trying to expand the sphere of its political/economic influence, the geopolitical tensions between competing nations cannot be eliminated, by definition. However, it is possible to ensure the continuation of lasting peace through the establishment of the ‘concert of powers’ – the Chinese concept of ‘harmonious world’ is closely reminiscent of this term.
In light of the study’s findings, the initially proposed hypothesis appears thoroughly legitimate. Apparently, there can be indeed only a few doubts that the geopolitical rise of China results in prompting more and more political scientists to reassess the soundness of the concept of ‘global governance’. This simply could not be otherwise, especially given the most recent geopolitical developments in the world, concerned with the outbreaks of the U.S.-sponsored/supported ‘orange’ revolutions all over the planet (resulting in the rise of ‘international terrorism’) and with Russia’s firm decision (supported by China) that the time has come to put an end to this kind of ‘governance’, on the part of America.
Therefore, it will only be logical to conclude that in the classical (Euro-centric/Constructivist) sense of this word, the term ‘global governance’ had lost the last remains of its former validity. The world is now standing on the threshold of the WW3 – something that exposes the sheer fallaciousness of great many Constructivist assumptions, affiliated with the concept. Because of what has been said earlier, we can speculate that China’s role in redefining ‘global governance’ is yet to be fully acknowledged.
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