In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section International Law and International Relations Study in China

  • Introduction
  • General Overview
  • Mutual Reference of Research Methods and Research on Interdisciplinary Problems
  • Conclusions

International Law International Law and International Relations Study in China
by
Zhiyun Liu, Chunxu Xie
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 October 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199796953-0246

Introduction

The early 21st century has been a period of emergence of interdisciplinary research on international relations and international law in China. Over these two decades, some Chinese scholars overcame the difficulty of interdisciplinary research, the prejudice within the subject and the gap among different subjects. They have made pioneering interdisciplinary research on such subjects as international relations and international law in the field of necessity, key points, specific pathways, discipline system connections, principal issues, mutual reference of research methods, and interdisciplinary issues. Moreover, with their great efforts, interdisciplinary research has won a common recognition and is becoming a popular method. So far, China’s interdisciplinary research on international relations and international law has had definite achievements. However, to achieve sustainable development, it is necessary to continue to promote the interaction between the two disciplines in teaching, and to promote the construction of an interdisciplinary dialogue mechanism, as well as to promote the construction of an interdisciplinary cooperation platform. This research is funded by the National Social Science Foundation of China (20VHJ007).

General Overview

The interdisciplinary research on international relations and international law is just beginning in China, falling far behind its Western counterparts, which, as Abbott 1992 argues, began at the end of the Cold War. In fact, since the division of subjects in China’s education system is too strict, the close relationship between the two subjects has long become completely separated from each other (i.e., in their own research activities). Their close relationship has always been neglected. By the end of the last century, Chinese scholars’ efforts to connect the two subjects were sporadic and could not become a trend. The first article discoverable on this subject is Jiang 1997. Not until the first decade of the twenty-first century have a few Chinese scholars on international relations and international law examined the bond between the two subjects and tried to conduct the interdisciplinary research which was being widely conducted in the West. Chinese scholars’ pioneering efforts include emphasizing the necessity and significance of the connection between the two disciplines, committing to the system connection and principle study, trying to establish the theoretical system that will connect the two disciplines, absorbing the research methods of each discipline, and learning from the concepts and knowledge of each discipline so as to promote the research and development on intersecting issues. Undoubtedly, at the beginning it will be difficult to engage in interdisciplinary research on international relations and international law in China. Scholars committed to this aspect not only have to overcome the challenges brought by the different discourse systems of the two disciplines, but also have few opportunities for communication between scholars. At the same time, these scholars must face the ignorance or indifference of most scholars from the respective disciplines, who often do not understand the necessity and inevitability of interdisciplinary research. Over time there have been accomplishments and setbacks, but the greatest value is that the tireless research work and research achievements of a small number of scholars over the past two decades have gradually caused more scholars to find the value and significance of this interdisciplinary research, prompting more Chinese scholars to devote themselves to interdisciplinary research on international relations and international law. This paper will review the discussions of the main issues of interdisciplinary research on international relations and international law in China over the past two decades, and analyze the efforts and methods of Chinese scholars to promote the sustainable development of interdisciplinary research. Western researchers will get a glimpse of the general situation and characteristics of Chinese scholars’ research in this field, so as to promote more interaction between Chinese and Western researchers.

  • Abbott, Kenneth W. “International Law and International Relational Theory: Building Bridges—Elements of a Joint Discipline.” Proceedings of the the American Society of International Law Annual Meeting 86 (1992): 168–172.

    Argues that as a matter of fact, the two subjects of international relations and international law had been separated for almost half a century by the end of the Cold War. Despite the existence of the huge gap between the two subjects and major obstacles in interdisciplinary cooperation research, the potential of cooperation in the future are still inspiring.

  • Jiang Guoqing 江国清. “Guoji tizhi lilun jieping” (国际体制理论介评). Faxue pinglun 法学评论. 1997, 1: 41–45.

    Earliest Chinese article focusing on the interdisciplinary study of international relations and international law. The author is a professor in the field of international law. Introduces and analyzes the theory of international institutions and problems of international law.

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