Envisioning China's political future : Elite responses to democracy as a global constitutive norm

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)701-722
Journal / PublicationInternational Studies Quarterly
Issue number3
Online published14 Aug 2007
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes


Democratic domestic governance has become a global constitutive norm. The fully socialized, "normal"state in international society is now expected either already to be democratic or embarked upon a democratization trajectory. But in China, the ruling Communist Party (CCP) rejects this norm and vows to construct an authoritarian new "political civilization" superior to democracy. Supportive Party intellectuals contend that most of the constitutive norms asserted to be global are actually manifestations of Western ideational power. CCP elites argue the impossibility of a global culture beyond the agency of states, which they regard as the ontologically primary actors in world politics. China's rise - its rapid increase in comprehensive national power - affords these elites the material and ideational resources they need to resist reconstitution by global democratic norms. Their efforts will probably keep the international society of states significantly pluralist (in the English School sense) well into the future.