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Part I Histories, Ch.7 China in the Age of the World Picture

Teemu Ruskola

From: The Oxford Handbook of the Theory of International Law

Edited By: Anne Orford, Florian Hoffmann

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 25 June 2024

Customary international law — General principles of international law — Relationship of international law & host state law — Sources of international law

This chapter places China at the centre of international legal theory. More broadly, it explores how the multiethnic Qing Empire (1644–1911) became ‘China’, a sovereign nation-state in a world of other, formally equal nation-states. In framing the question, international law is approached as a foundational aspect of the political ontology of the modern world—one that depends on and sustains a particular metaphysical conception of the world, with associated notions of political time and space. In this light, the law of nations is analyzed at its origin as the constitution of Europe: a set of constitutive norms that governed the relationship among the so-called ‘Family of Nations’, sometimes characterized as the ius publicum Europaeum, or the public law of Europe. As this historically specific legal order has become globalized by means of colonialism, it has become effectively the constitution of the world.

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