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Abstract: According to realist approach, three most modern influential states Russia, China and US strive to gain maximum freedom in the international arena while retaining independence in domestic policies. The author suggests that a different constructivist approach should be used. Paying attention to the peculiarities of norms and acknowledging the influence of domestic policy on the norms, this approach allows to explain the differences in understanding sovereignty in different states. The political elites of Russia and China tend to consider that the strong central power secures the Westphalian sovereignty, while the historic experience of the US formed the ideal of decentralized power. Aiming at population protection, democracy promotion, terrorist persecution and maintaining US hegemony, American liberal internationalists and neocons are in general eager to step away from the traditional understanding of sovereignty. Russia and China consider sovereignty from the absolutist standpoint, though they have made a number of concessions to the changing norms of territorial integrity and humanitarian intervention. The article proves that the Russian, American and Chinese understanding of sovereignty (both domestic sovereignty and interdependence sovereignty in S.Krasner’s terms) is changing with the emergence of common interests and the necessity to counteract new global threats.

Об авторе

Ch. Ziegler

Соединённые Штаты Америки

Список литературы

1. See Maryann Cuisimano Love, Beyond Sovereignty: Issues for a Global Agenda, 4th edition (Boston: Wadsworth, 2010); Ken Booth and Nicholas J. Wheeler, The Security Dilemma: Fear, Cooperation and Trust in World Politics (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008); and Colin L. Powell, “A Strategy of Partnerships,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 83, Issue 1 (January/February 2004), pp. 22–34.

2. Since realists take sovereignty as a given, most have devoted little attention to the concept. See Kenneth N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979), esp. pp. 95–96. John J. Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (New York: W.W. Norton, 2001) does not discuss sovereignty at all.

3. Robert Jackson, Sovereignty: Evolution of an Idea (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2007).

4. I recognize that in each country there are diverse schools of thought on international relations, and that these conflicting perspectives have variable impact on the foreign policy behaviors of their respective states. In this paper I am concerned not with delineating all the varieties of theoretical trends, but rather with identifying the dominant perspectives as reflected on official state policies.

5. Stephen D. Krasner, Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), pp. 3–4.

6. URL:, accessed May 23, 2011.

7. James Headley, Russia and the Balkans: Foreign Policy from Yeltsin to Putin (New York: Columbia University Press), pp. 263–264.

8. “Medvedev nazval ‘pyat printsipov’ vneshnei politiki Rossii,” August 31, RIA Novosti, at URL: 150827264.html, accessed March 3, 2011.

9. Andrei Kokoshin, Real’nyi suverenitet (Moscow: Izdatel’stvo ‘Europa,’ 2006), pp. 15–17.

10. Domestic sovereignty refers to “the formal organization of political authority within the state and the ability of public authorities to exercise effective control within the borders of their own polity.” Krasner, p. 4. For an elaboration of the concept of sovereign democracy, see V. Surkov, “Russian Political Culture: The View from Utopia,” Russian Social Science Review, Vol. 49, No. 6 (November-December 2008), pp. 81–97; and V. Surkov, “Nationalization of the Future: Paragraphs pro Sovereign Democracy,” Russian Studies in Philosophy, Vol. 47, No. 4 (Spring 2009), pp. 8–21.

11. See the remarks by Oleg Barabanov, in “Esli Vestfal’ i bolen, to etot bol’noi skoree zhiv, chem. mertv…” Mezhdunarodnye protsessy, Vol. 5, No. 3 (15), September — December 2007), pp. 106–107.

12. See Marina Lebedeva, “Chto ugrozhaet Vestfaliu?” Mezhdunarodnye protsessy, Vol. 6, No. 1 (16), January-April 2008, pp. 117-120.

13. Andrei Kokoshin quotes IR scholar Alexei Bogaturov and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to this effect. Kokoshin, pp. 18–19.

14. Kokoshin, p. 22.

15. Tatyana A. Shakleyina and Aleksei D. Bogaturov, “The Russian Realist School of International Relations,” Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 37 (2004), p. 49.

16. Chen-shen J. Yen, “Sovereignty, Human Rights and China’s National Interest: A Non-Zero Sum Game,”Foreign Policy Research Institute, February 2011, at URL:, accessed May 23, 2011. Yen, Director of the Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University in Taipei, argues that Beijing’s view is misguided, since promoting human rights on the mainland would help preserve China’s core interest in retaining control over Taiwan.

17. On the role of federalism in economic development with comparisons between Yeltsin’s Russia and China, see Olivier Blanchard and Andrei Schliefer, Federalism with and without Political Centralization. China versus Russia, National Bureau for Economic Research (February 15, 2000).

18. Shiuh-Shen Chien, “Economic Freedom and Political Control in Post-Mao China: A Perspective of Upward Accountability and Asymmetric Decentralization”? Asian Journal of Political Science, Vol. 18, No. 1 (April 2010), pp. 69–89.

19. Allen Carlson, Unifying China, Integrating with the World: Securing Chinese Sovereignty in the Reform Era (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005), p. 224.

20. “Chinese President urges Diplomats to Serve National Interests,” Chinese Embassy to the United States website, July 21, 2009, at URL:, accessed May 12, 2011. Also, see Wang Jisi, “China’s Search for a Grand Strategy,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 90, Issue 2 (March/April 2011), pp. 68-79.

21. “China Calls for Civilian Protection in Armed Action,” Xinhua (May 11, 2011), at URL:, accessed May 17, 2011.

22. “Push Factor; China’s Rescue Mission to Libya, Economist (March 5, 2011); “Chinese-Funded Enterprises have 50 Large-Scale Projects in Libya,” People’s Daily Online (March 23, 2011), at, accessed May 17, 2011.

23. Lydia Polgreen, “China, in New Role, Presses Sudan on Darfur,” New York Times, February 23, 2008.

24. “Chengqiu Wu, “Sovereignty, Human Rights, and Responsibility: Changes in China’s Response to International Humanitarian Crises,” Journal of Chinese Political Science, Vol. 15 (2010), pp. 71–97; Pang Zhongying, “China’s Changing Attitude to UN Peacekeeping,” International Peacekeeping, Vol. 12, No. 1 (Spring 2005), pp. 87–104.

25. Carlson, Unifying China, Integrating with the World.

26. See Allen Carlson, “Moving Beyond Sovereignty? A Brief Consideration of Recent Changes in China’s Approach to International Order and the Emergence of the tianxia Concept,” Journal of Contemporary China, Vol. 20, No. 68 (January 2011), pp. 89–102; and G. John Ikenberry and Michael Mastanduno, eds. International Relations Theory and the Asia-Pacific (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003).

27. See the perceptive critique of both schools of thought by John J. Mearsheimer, “Imperial by Design,” The National Interest, No. 111 (January/February 2011), 16-34. Mearsheimer designates the liberal internationalist school as “liberal imperialists,” equating them with the neocons in their support for an American empire.

28. Mearsheimer calls for offshore balancing in three major areas of strategic interest — Europe, the Middle East, and Northeast Asia. Mearsheimer, “Imperial by Design.” Another major proponent of offshore balancing is Christopher Layne. See his “From Preponderance to Offshore Balancing: America’s Grand Strategy,” International Scurity, Vol. 22, No, 1 (Summer 1997), pp. 86-124; and “America’s Middle East Grand Strategy after Iraq: The Moment for Offshore Balancing has Arrived,” Review of International Studies, Vol. 36, Issue 1 (2009), pp. 5-25.

29. Carrie Johnson, “Making it Official: Hunting al-Qaida Worldwide,” National Public Radio, May 23, 2011, at, accessed May 23, 2011.

30. Krasner, Sovereignty.

31. See Rajan Menon, “Pious Words, Puny Deeds: The ‘International Community’ and Mass Atrocities,” Ethics & International Affairs, Vol. 23, Issue 3 (Fall 2009), pp. 235-245.

32. International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect website, at URL:, accessed May 23, 2011.

33. “Russia’s Position at the 64th Session of the UN General Assembly,” at, accessed May 23, 2011.

34. The Responsibility to Protect and the Protection of Civilians: Asia-Pacific in the UN Security Council, Update No. 1 (February 10, 2009), at, accessed May 23, 2011.

Дополнительные файлы

Для цитирования: Ziegler C. CONTRASTING U.S., CHINESE AND RUSSIAN PERCEPTIONS OF SOVEREIGNTY. Сравнительная политика. 2012;3(1(7)):14-22.

For citation: Ziegler C. CONTRASTING U.S., CHINESE AND RUSSIAN PERCEPTIONS OF SOVEREIGNTY. Comparative Politics Russia. 2012;3(1(7)):14-22.

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