JEAIL > Volume 9(1); 2016 > Issue Focus
Research Paper
Published online: May 30, 2016

The Final Splendour of an Aged Empire: Chinese Thought on International Law in the early Twentieth Century

Ping Yi
Room 203, Law School Building, Peking University
5 Yiheyuan Road, Haidian District, Beijing, P.R. China 100871.
Corresponding Author:

ⓒ Copyright YIJUN Institute of International Law
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Until the late nineteenth century, the history of international law was remarkably Eurocentric. In the early twentieth century, however, a number of Chinese intellectuals examined and demonstrated existence of international law through the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Period in China. They used international law as a symbol of civilisation to express a gesture of resistance toward the Western imperial oppression and cultural invasion. In this way, Chinese intellectuals hoped to maintain, publicise, or even resurrect China's rich cultural tradition in a global order governed by the West. Their endeavour represented an important variable in the European imperialist expansion process and constituted political interaction with western ideas to create a truly universal discourse. Unfortunately, most of their efforts have almost been forgotten. What the readers could perceive from these faded writings are not only academic assertions, but also the final splendour of an aged empire.

Keywords : Ancient Chinese international law, Civilisation, Chinese intellectuals, Spring and Autumn and Warring States Period, Wanguo Gongfa

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