A Theoretical Explanation of the Evolving Northeast Asian Architecture: The “Incompleteness” of Sovereignty

Current literature on international relations theory is helpful in explaining Northeast Asian regional politics, but falls short. We witness the rising tension between the United States and China and wonder whether this will lead to power transition and to an “inevitable” clash. We want to explain why two advanced market democracies, South Korea and Japan, began to have quite tense relations despite close economic relations and civil-civil exchanges, and why history and nationalism take the lead in defining the strategic relationship between the two. Theories—realism, liberalism, and constructivism and their offshoots—, I argue, have neglected the impact of “incomplete sovereignty.” All the units in Northeast Asia, i.e., the two Chinas, two Koreas, and Japan, which are striving to be “normal,” have failed to achieve the status of full modern sovereignty, and subsequently have never “recognized” one or more others as full sovereign units without fear of having their own sovereignty encroached upon.1 Employing the concept of “incomplete sovereignty,” this article analyzes two important regional relationships: US-China relations, and South Korea-Japan relations.

US-China Relations and International Relations Theories

The East Asian regional order has been shaped by great power politics. Henry Kissinger once wrote that Asian international relations today are at the stage seen in in Europe just after the Napoleonic wars, in the sense that great power politics in Asia are still competitive while struggling for a way to forge an effective multilateral mechanism for cooperation. Lacking such region-wide cooperative mechanisms, national behavior has been defined largely by the logic of balance of power. The power gap between great powers and middle/small powers is bigger than in other regions. Also, East Asian regional order is highly porous to global politics, in the sense that all regional great powers are global powers at the same time; what happens in the region closely reflect the changes at the global level.

Since the Cold War ended, East Asia has enjoyed a relatively stable regional order under US unipolarity after past bipolar confrontation disappeared. Now it is becoming increasingly obvious that the most important factor that will shape future regional architecture will be US-China relations. Both countries, exceptionally powerful and distinctive, will affect the future destiny of all states in the region. From the perspective of international relations theories, there are many uncertainties, which are different from the cases of past great power politics.

Power transition theory

The US-China relationship seems to be different from past cases of power transition, according to the theory. President Obama during his September 2015 summit with President Xi Jinping mentioned that both countries should avoid the Thucydides trap. After all, they are mutually interdependent to a considerable degree, driving them toward close cooperation. China’s rise has been possible under the framework of US leadership. Beyond bilateral interdependence, the foundation of the current international relations itself is changing. Power diffusion is as evident as power shift in East Asia. If we look at the agendas in the 2+2 strategic dialogue between the United States and China, there are so many agendas requiring common efforts such as climate change, disaster relief, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, development assistance, peace keeping operations, counter-terrorist warfare, etc. To avoid the tragedy of the commons, the two need to accelerate cooperation in many areas. Under this situation, it is hard to imagine that they are headed for hegemonic war using violent means to defeat the other during the power shift.

Realism and liberalism

The bilateral relationship between Washington and Beijing can be analyzed through a mix of realism and liberalism. Liberal theories argue that even under an anarchical situation without supranational authority, enduring cooperation and peace are possible. Mechanisms such as market interdependence, democratic peace, and institutional cooperative settings will enable the transformation from realist rivalry to liberal cooperation. Realist theories, with several different versions and sub-theories, argue that competition and conflict of interests are unavoidable because there are inherent problems such as a security dilemma and the question of cheating and relative gains. Questions, then, follow: how much economic interdependence such as free trade agreements (FTAs), financial coordination, and regional production networks are needed to decrease the geopolitical tensions among East Asian countries or can we safely assume that the increasing number of FTAs promote more intense political and strategic cooperation among East Asian countries?

Looking at US-China relations, some foundations for liberal stability and peace have been laid in the areas of security, economy, and culture since the end of the Cold War. Most importantly, various multilateral economic institutions have been founded. Market interdependence is highly evident. In spite of geopolitical rivalry, each country will have extreme difficulty in developing its economy without the other. The question, then, is not whether they will continue economic interdependence, but who will write the rules for the future. Obama, after the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, announced that the United States will be the country to write the rules for the international economy. “When more than 95 percent of our potential customers live outside our borders, we can’t let countries like China write the rules of the global economy. We should write those rules, opening new markets to American products while setting high standards for protecting workers and preserving our environment.”2 In the economic arena, the position of the United States moved from off-shore stakeholder to major regional architect.

There has been lots of emphasis on so-called rule-based competition in many areas. The competition between the United States and China now revolves around who will win the issue-specific games of setting the agenda in the military, economic, or socio-cultural areas, and at the same time who will win in the meta-game which decides the rules and principles for issue-specific games. In the economic arena, severe institutional balancing is proceeding between the two. Contrary to the liberal proposition that markets and institutions promote peace and cooperation, the United States and China are leading the competition in various institutions. In regard to FTAs, both TPP and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) are under negotiation to induce more Asian members to embrace the agenda of one or the other. RCEP based on Chinese leadership will take a more concrete form sometime later in this decade among 16 members (ASEAN + South Korea, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and India). On the one hand, China, which retains a relative advantage in goods, is pursuing a mega-regional FTA network excluding the United States. The United States, on the other hand, after participating actively in the negotiations for TPP during the Bush administration, became more proactive under the. Obama administration—under the rubric of the “rebalance” to Asia, in establishing TPP, considering that the platform for the economic architecture to support the rebalancing strategy. Obama emphasized the geopolitical significance of TPP by saying that “It strengthens our strategic relationships with our partners and allies in a region that will be vital to the twenty-first century.”3

In sum, as seen in the case of FTA networks in Asia, the US-China relationship is a combination of realist competition and liberal cooperation in a subtle form. Economic interdependence such as a free trade network is not politics-free. Both domestically and internationally, serious reservations among different actors with conflicting interests need to be allayed. Competition between TPP and RCEP reflects the game of exclusion between the United States and China. This will continue in other areas of economic relations such as production, investment, and finance. To analyze this through the lens of international relations theories, combining insights from both realism and liberalism, will be critical.

Security Dilemma, Offensive Realism, and Defensive Realism

Theoretical elaboration can help in analyzing and predicting the evolution of US-China relations. Grand theories such as realism (e.g. power transition theory), liberalism, or constructivism are too general to explain the evolution of the relationship through different stages. Over-theorization blinds one in looking at the temporal changes in the relationship, providing us with unfounded theoretical prediction. For example, offensive realist predictions of the inevitability of clashes between the United States and China are oversimplified and underestimate the possibility of taking alternative paths in the relationship. We need to look more closely into the mechanism of what factors really are at play in the relationship.

One question is whether the US-China relationship can be defined as a security dilemma. This sort of dilemma is understood to appear and become aggravated without any offensive, expansive, or revisionist intentions of the players. All parties are security seekers, not power-maximizers. The dilemma exists because modern international relations are organized based on the principle of anarchy. Doubtful of one’s enduring security, states are inherently in the midst of security worries. What matters here is the subjective perception of the parties toward others. As the players cannot be sure of defensive or benign intentions of the other, they tend to prepare for the worst-case scenario and cope with the security crisis. This happens to the other side as well, and the defensive move of one side is easily interpreted as an offensive one. Actions taken for defensive purposes are sometimes inherently indistinguishable from offensive ones. Military actions as well as diplomatic actions may work for both defensive and offensive purposes. Weapons are supposed to be used for both aims, and diplomatic maneuvers are similar. In the case of US-China relations, both states cannot be sure of the defensive or status quo intention of the other party. China has criticized the US rebalancing strategy as a version of balancing against or containing China, holding that the core element of rebalancing is to strengthen the already existing US alliance network, to establish strategic partnerships with Chinese neighbors, to set up regional multilateral institutions to check against increasing Chinese influence, and to put more pressure on China using moral arguments such as respect for human rights. China criticizes the ROK-US alliance as the legacy of the Cold War, which has lost raison d’être in the twenty-first century, while it proposes a neighborhood policy that is a Chinese version of the Monroe Doctrine, which America used from the early nineteenth century in the process of strengthening its national power to prevent old European powers from intervening in matters in the New World. China criticizes US-led multilateral institutions, both at the global and regional level, as preserving American vested interests unjustly dealing with Chinese rights and concerns. As opposed to the common sensical view that the existing hegemon is a status quo power, America, Chinese argue, is a revisionist power keen to reinforce the current liberal order for its own benefit.4 In short, Chinese think that Washington is not a security seeker, but a power maximizer.

Regarding Chinese strategic intentions, the United States is no less worried. Despite diverse rhetoric about the rise of China such as “peaceful rise” or “peaceful development,” Washington regards some Chinese actions as highly assertive. Continuing criticisms exist with respect to the fundamental motives of Chinese military modernization. It is a well-known fact that China has increased military expenditures annually by roughly 12 percent for the last decade, and developed new strategic weapons such as strategic bombers, anti-carrier ballistic missiles, aircraft carriers, and satellite-based weapons. China has made many unilateral claims about maritime territories in the East and South China seas, aggravating territorial disputes with neighbors. Especially Chinese claims on the South China Sea and efforts to construct artificial islands on top of coral shoals and reefs there have seriously aroused the United States and concerned parties. The unilateral announcement of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in 2013 also aggravated neighbors’ concerns about Chinese assertiveness.

In the economic area, China has provided invaluable opportunities to almost all Asian countries; however, many are concerned about Chinese retaliatory measures when disputes not just in economic areas, but also in political and security areas may happen in the future. China has already used economic relations for punitive purposes against South Korea and Japan. Also China has aggressively attempted to establish new regional economic institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) this year and has launched a new project of One Belt, One Road. These institutions can be seen as promoting mutual economic interests purely based on market logic, but an inherent dilemma exists because of uncertainties regarding the future geostrategic landscape in Asia.

What matters are the perceptions of both the United States and China vis-à-vis each other. Inescapable doubts arise not because of the genuine aggressive intentions of the parties, but because of structural anarchy and uncertainty regarding true mutual intentions. Under this kind of security dilemma, basically two solutions exist. First, one may assume that the dilemma can be resolved by reassuring the other of one’s true, defensive intentions. Here the initial strategy of reassurance will work to send signals regarding one’s benign intentions. In this process it is also possible for the sender to seek the receiver’s intentions and purposes. Then trust results only gradually after a serious of trial-and-error mutual reassurances.5 This is the conclusion of defensive realists. In contrast, offensive realists posit that great powers inherently possess some offensive military capability and under that situation, uncertainty about other states’ intentions, and the possibility that intentions can change quickly, drive great powers towards absolute security. Worries about cheating and relative gain or loss prevent great powers from relying on reassurances, and they tend to balance against offensive capabilities of potential rivals not their intentions. This is a tragic aspect of great power politics, and naïve expectations on how to solve the dilemma may lead to disaster in critical security matters.6

In the case of the US-China relations, there are more than 100 venues for dialogue at diverse levels; however tensions and doubts are not decreasing. Tang supposes that if we generally look back on the evolution of security order in world politics, we will see the evolution from an offensive realist order to a defensive realist one. It follows that we may expect the East Asian order to evolve from offensive realist to defensive realist, and ultimately to a liberal one. What we have seen in East Asia, however, is that the security dilemma is driving both the United States and China to a more offensive realist position. What contributes to this undesirable situation? For that, I return to the concept of “incomplete sovereignty.”

South Korea-Japan Relations and International Relations Theories

Explaining bilateral cooperation from realist and liberal perspectives

Since the diplomatic normalization in June 1965, the relationship between South Korea and Japan has improved overall. In terms of security, both countries are close allies of the United States, fighting the Cold War as an indispensable partner to each other. Japan has provided a rear base to defend South Korea from communist aggression, especially from North Korean attack. After the end of the Cold War, anchored in hub-and-spoke relations with the United States, both countries have continued close security cooperation even if they may not broadcast it; both cooperated in a trilateral security cooperative mechanism with the United States to deal with North Korean problems, which was aggravated by the North Korean nuclear program from 1993. At the global level, both countries contributed to peacekeeping operations in many parts of the world, and they cooperated in many areas such as disaster relief and humanitarian assistance. Economic and socio-cultural ties are also solid foundations for bilateral cooperation. In terms of trade and investment, they have maintained a high level of interdependence, and civil-civil exchange is also expanding.

From the perspective of international relations theory, both realism and liberalism explain the evolution of bilateral cooperation. In the face of a serious, common security threat, South Korea and Japan formed a kind of semi-alliance and pursued trilateral strategic cooperation with the United States. During the Cold War era, the existence of the communist countries—the USSR, China, and North Korea–drove the two countries to alliance-like cooperation. Especially when the United States weakened its security commitment to Asia, such as in the early 1970s, South Korea and Japan strengthened cooperation out of a common fear of being abandoned by the United States.7

Liberal mechanisms also worked strongly in this relationship. Economic interdependence was the cornerstone of mutually beneficial relations, and President Park Chung-hee from 1965 could pursue economic development when Japan provided South Korea with a USD 300 million grant in economic aid and USD 200 million in loans together with USD 300 million in loans for private trusts—a total of USD 800 million as “economic cooperation.” Japan is now South Korea’s third partner for exports, and second partner for imports following China. Both share values and norms as the two most developed democracies in Northeast Asia with strong market economies, advanced civil societies, and an interdependent business community.

Theoretical puzzle for the deteriorating relationship between South Korea and Japan

However, from the early twenty-first century, the bilateral relationship showed many signs of deterioration. Most of all, long-standing issues such as Dokdo, historical textbooks, and especially wartime “comfort women” became quite salient. The South Korean government and civil society criticized Japanese leaders’ visits to Yasukuni shrine and a lack of apology for the past colonialization and the “comfort women” issues. All of this happened in the midst of dynamic cultural exchanges between the two and even rising preference for each other.

This trend has been reinforced by differing policies toward China. South Korea has maintained very strong economic ties with China, with 25 percent of its exports headed there. Inter-Korean relations, aggravated by the North Korean nuclear problem, cannot be resolved easily without active participation and diplomatic assistance from the Chinese side. South Korea also concluded FTA negotiations with China, and participates in rounds of negotiation over RCEP and the China-Japan-Korea (CJK) trilateral FTA. Yet, the relationship between Japan and China has been strained by territorial disputes and the debate over fishing areas as well. Japanese leadership regards the rise of China as a threat more than an opportunity, and tries to change its security posture by passing legislation that will allow it to participate in more active collective self-defense.

One can analyze the worsening relationship between South Korea and Japan from a constructivist perspective.8 Constructivists argue that identity constitutes the essence of national interests and the purpose of national policies. Conflictual identities generate different definitions of one’s respective interests, resulting in divergent policies. Identities come from many sources such as historical memory, normative ideas, and culture. In the case of the South Korea-Japan relationship, historical memory coming from the period of Japanese imperialism and Korean’s experience of colonialization overwhelms converging identities in other respects since 1945. South Koreans criticize the insincerity of Japanese apologies for past atrocities and wrongdoings. Japanese, in contrast, argue that Japan, in fact, apologized repeatedly for its wartime past and wonder why Koreans ignore two decades of clear contrition. Although the two countries have developed what many thought was mutual friendship and cultivated common strategic purposes, the rise of these collective memories has had a critical effect on the bilateral relationship.

The constructivist argument does not explain why the history issues and memory politics became salient at this specific historical period overriding security cooperation. As the two countries retain multiple political identities, conditions that prioritize certain identities and, subsequently, particular identity politics need to be specified.

Also, the rise of China generated the strategic necessity to engage with or balance against China for both South Korea and Japan, but the result is either under-engagment or under-balancing. Constructivists may argue that different experiences with China in history may differentiate South Korea from Japan in choosing policies towards China. Yet, more specific conditions that drive these two countries toward different alternatives need to be identified. China and South Korea experienced similar hardships with the expansion of imperial Japan from the late nineteenth century, but the reason why this common identity gets reinforced at this specific moment needs explanation. These days Japanese criticize South Korea for tilting toward China, exemplified in President Park Geun-hye’s participation in the Beijing military parade in September 2015. But taking political identity as its main cause is too simple an explanation. Then, what can explain the worsening relationship between South Korea and Japan other than the variables of identity?

Incomplete State Sovereignty of Korea, China, and Japan, and the Evolution of Northeast Asian Architecture

The evolution of the East Asian regional order can be divided into four periods: 1) the traditional order before 1840, when the Opium War occurred; 2) a transitional era from 1840-1951, ending with the San Francisco Peace Treaty; 3) the Cold War era from 1951 to 1991, when the former Soviet Union collapsed; and 4) the contemporary era from 1991 to the present. What distinguishes the modern state system from the traditional order is state sovereignty. State sovereignty, which originated in Europe, is composed of exclusive territoriality and clear demarcation of citizenship. East Asian traditional order can be defined by imperial sovereignty reaching out to the whole region, and blurring any concept of territoriality and citizenship. Dynasties occupying the Chinese center claimed ideational sovereignty over the whole region, while local polities observed the sinocentric order when the center displayed its material power and cultural superiority.9

At the end of the first period, the constitutive principle of the modern state system, which is based upon state sovereignty, was imported from the West. But the nineteenth century Western states system presupposed the rightful existence of empires. Japan, the most successfully transformed modern state, soon colonized Korea and invaded China. The modern transition, at this moment, did not result in mutual recognition of multiple sovereign units. The second Sino-Japanese war (July 7, 1937 – September 9, 1945) leading to the Pacific War contributed to the strengthening of imperialism, and the modern state system could not be established.

The postwar arrangement to conclude a century-long transformation of the East Asian traditional order to a modern order was at hand when representatives from 48 countries met at the San Francisco Peace Conference in September 1951. They were supposed to define who are the recognized players and what are the basic rules and organizing principles, of which the most fundamental function was to discourage any attempt to build an empire. Unfortunately, the new system failed to achieve the aims of the post-imperial/colonial, postwar arrangement. It was not regional; neither the two Koreas nor the two Chinas both participated, and the USSR did not consent to the outcome. Only the United States and Japan worked out the terms of the negotiations and concluded a bilateral defense treaty.

Deficiencies of the San Francisco system produced the situation under which countries in East Asia begin to play sovereignty games, in the sense that they struggled to achieve full sovereign status, as all players tried to maximize their national interests by exploiting other countries’ sovereignty games. Both sides in Korea and China claimed exclusive domestic sovereignty. Each tried to get external recognition from international society. Japan, as a defeated power with constitutional constraints, also tried to achieve full sovereignty depending on its alliance relationship with the United States.10

From the early twenty-first century, intensifying US-China rivalry began to overshadow the foreign policies of all regional powers. Obama pursued a strategy of Asian rebalancing and paid renewed attention to the importance of bilateral alliances. China, as an emerging power, challenged American hegemony in various ways. Unlike other cases of power transition in global history, the power shift in Northeast Asia is mixed with the sovereignty game. China still preserves the idea of a sovereign empire in imagining the ideal sovereignty of the Chinese people and tries to realize the so-called “China Dream.” Debates are still going on whether China is a revisionist power or status quo power, whether China is being more assertive or not, or whether China will challenge American hegemony. Observers assuming a non-assertive or defensive strategy also take China’s plan for establishing its own hegemony seriously. The point is that the power transition between the United States and China is intermingled with Chinese aspirations for full sovereignty. Here, the Chinese conception of full sovereignty reminds the United States and neighboring countries of the expansive nature of China’s rise. Amid doubts about Chinese attempts to revive long-cherished sinocentrism, the security dilemma grows worse, and China has a hard time reassuring other powers of its defensive and benign intentions. Then, the question is not whether China is defensive or offensive, but whether China can reconceptualize national sovereignty not in imperialist terms and in a manner that gains recognition from other powers.

Efforts to achieve full sovereignty by both Koreas and Japan also give rise to peculiar phenomena in their bilateral relationship. The problem in the relations between South Korea and Japan is that both countries have never recognized the other as a full, modern sovereign unit. To South Korea, Japan is a safe partner when it remains an abnormal country with constitutional restraints in its military power. To a lesser degree, Japan is fearful of a unified Korea with stronger power, which may long for a great power status. Not sure of the future path of Japan as a normal country, South Korea wants Japan never returning to imperialist revisionism. Even though Prime Minister Abe defines Japanese strategy as “proactive pacifism,” it seems that South Koreans are not reassured. One indicator of Japanese peaceful and non-expansive intentions is Japanese perceptions of their own imperialist history. Showing explicitly their regrets about past expansionism would be interpreted as a sign of peaceful intentions for the future. In contrast, a nostalgic attitude toward Japan’s imperialist past combined with insincerity of apologies for past colonialization would raise doubts about future Japan. In this sense, the issue of apology between South Korea and Japan is an issue about the future. The worsening relationship between South Korea and Japan is not just a matter of identity politics, but a matter of a sovereignty game, whether each country can recognize the other as a full, modern state and still not feel threatened.

Why the two countries perceive the rise of China differently is linked to different needs for China related to their respective efforts to achieve full sovereignty. Each is seizing the opportunity of the period of a power shift between the United States and China as a favorable environment to accomplish its own full sovereignty. The critical agendas are reunification for Koreans and normalization for Japanese. The logic of balance of power would likely push both countries toward strategic cooperation to prevent the rise of hegemonic China. Yet, South Korea needs strategic cooperation with China in dealing with the North Korean nuclear problem and, ultimately, for reunification. In contrast, an aggressive China is helpful for conservative Japanese leaders to persuade their own people and international society of the need for military normalization. Here, the sovereignty game betrays the urgent need to balance against the rise of China.


Serious security dilemmas among Northeast Asian countries pose challenges to the efforts to establish peace among these countries. The United States and China cannot be sure of the defensive and benign intentions of the other, and easily interpret the other’s actions as assertive or offensive. South Korea and Japan fail to produce a common stance in dealing with the rise of China and setting up a common strategic outlook for regional stability. International relations theories such as realism, liberalism, constructivism, and the theory of power transition help to explain these enduring dilemmas at the general level. Medium-range theories such as security dilemma, defensive realism, and offensive realism also help in explaining what is happening among Northeast Asian countries.

Unlike European countries, which completed the modern transition over a long period of time, these countries have never recognized the other as full, sovereign modern states. China still preserves a premodern concept of a great power with quite expansive ideas of territory and a regional community with neighboring countries. Korea and Japan also have never recognized the other as a unified, normal, modern state without any doubt about offensive and revisionist intentions. This lack of recognition of complete sovereignty complicates Northeast Asian politics. East Asian countries are vigilant about accepting Chinese ideas of regional leadership, and Koreans are afraid of Japanese normalization for fear of reviving imperialism. Without clear reassurance that both China and Japan will not return to either premodern or nineteenth century-type empires, the security dilemma for South Korea will get worse. Northeast Asian countries are blaming each other for their behavior, but they need to realize that this way of thinking has inherently structural and historical origins. They need to share common views on the desirable future, and they need to visualize Northeast Asia composed of a unified Korea, a unified China, and a normal Japan coexisting peacefully and feeling safe with each other. Then, we can solve the problem of a worsening security dilemma in this region.


1. The White House, “Statement by the President on the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” October 5, 2015, www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/10/05/statement-president-trans-pacific-partnership.

2. The White House, “Statement by the President on the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” October 5, 2015, www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/10/05/statement-president-trans-pacific-partnership.

3. Ibid.

4. Steve Chan, China, the US, and the Power- Transition Theory: A Critique (New York, Routledge, 2008).

5. Shiping Tang, A Theory of Security Strategy For Our Time (New York, Palgrave, 2010), 130-136.

6. For the assumptions of offensive realists, see John J. Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (New York: W. W. Norton, 2001).

7. Victor Cha, Alignment Despite Antagonism: The United States-Korea-Japan Security Triangle (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999).

8. See Alexander Wendt, “Anarchy is What States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power Politics,” International Organization 46 (1992): 391-425; Alexander Wendt, Social Theory of International Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999); “Why a World State is Inevitable,” European Journal of International Relations 9, no. 4 (2003); Wendt, Alexander and Daniel Friedheim, “Hierarchy Under Anarchy: Informal Empire and the East German State,” in Thomas J. Biersteker and Cynthia Weber, eds., State Sovereignty as Social Construct (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

9. David C. Kang, “Getting Asia Wrong: The Need for New Analytical Frameworks,” International Security 27, no. 4 (Spring 2003); David C. Kang, East Asia Before the West: Five Centuries of Trade and Tribute (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010); Victoria Tin-Bor Hui, “Toward a Dynamic Theory of International Politics: Insights from Comparing the Ancient Chinese and Early Modern European Systems,” International Organization 58, no. 1 (Winter 2004); Feng Zhang, “Rethinking the ‘Tribute System’: Broadening the Conceptual Horizon of Historical East Asian Politics,” The Chinese Journal of International Politics 2, no. 4 (2009): 545-574; John, K. Fairbank, ed., The Chinese World Order (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970); Thomas J. Barfield, The Perilous Frontier: Nomadic Empires and China (Cambridge: B. Blackwell, 1989).

10. For a critical review of the concept of sovereignty, see Stephen D. Krasner, Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999); Stephen D. Krasner, “Sharing Sovereignty: New Institutions for Collapsed and Failing States,” International Security 29, no. 2 (Fall, 2004); Jens Bartelson, A Genealogy of Sovereignty (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995); David Lake, “The New Sovereignty in International Relations,” International Studies Review 5, no. 3 (2003): 303–323; David Lake, Hierarchy in International Relations (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2009).