#37 – China’s Traditional Statecraft in the XXI Century

event #37 September 15th, 2014

Edward Luttwak
Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
Francesco Sisci
Senior Researcher at Renmin University of China


The elemental sense of centrality of any polity takes very different forms, ranging from the quiet certitudes of the Kingdom of Denmark to that well-known Chinese construct, the Tianxia (whose logographs 天下 have been much seen in the Japanese press of late, their Kanji versions being identical). Literally “under heaven” , short for “all under heaven” or more meaningfully, “the rule of all humans”, it defines an ideal national and international system of ever-expanding concentric circles centered on a globally benevolent emperor, now Xi Jinping or more correctly perhaps, the seven-headed standing committee of the Politburo. The innermost circle of the Tianxia is formed by the rest of the politburo and top Beijing officialdom, while its outermost circle comprises the Solomons Islands along with the twenty or so other utterly benighted “outer barbarian” countries that still do not recognize Beijing , preferring Taipei. In between, all other Chinese from officials and tycoons to ordinary subjects and overseas Chinese have their less and less inner circles, as do foreign states large and small, both near and far, both already respectful (too few) and those still arrogantly vainglorious.