The Sino-US Conflict in the Light of History of International Relations

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2022-66-1-16-27
National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20, Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation;
Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University), 76, Vernadskogo Prosp., Moscow, 119454, Russian Federation.

Received 05.06.2021.

Acknowledgements. The reported study was funded by RFBR and ASS, project number 21-514-93002.

Abstract. This article addresses the current confrontation between the United States and China in the context of the history of international relations and civilization expansions. The work demonstrates how most attempts to analyze the essence of this important phenomenon in modern world politics are based on too narrow a view: both from the standpoint of world history and the entire system of modern international relations. The author introduces the concepts of “Westernism” and “Westernist period” in order to describe the modern world. These terms are reminiscent of “Hellenism” and “Hellenistic period”, which the period of the global spread of Western civilizational models. Using world history as an example, the author examines characteristic features of such periods and concludes that the wide geographical spread of the cultural forms of any civilization and the civilizational unity caused by it historically did not lead to complete political unity. As a rule, this spread ended in a period of fragmentation, which in the sense of international relations can be called multipolarity. The author infers that the current Sino-US conflict is neither purely civilizational nor geopolitical, but it demonstrates that civilizationally united westernized world enters a period of political fragmentation. This is how one should understand the process, which in the modern foreign policy language is called the transition from unipolarity to multipolarity.

Keywords: USA, China, conflict, Westernism, hegemony, multipolarity


  1. Lipset S.M. Political Man: The Social Basis of Politics. Garden City, NY, Anchor Boors, 1963. 477 p.
  2. Diamond L., Linz J.J., Lipset S.M., eds. Democracy in Developing Countries. Volume Four: Latin America. Boulder, CO, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1989. 515 p.
  3. Doyle M.W. Kant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs. Philosophy and Public Affairs, 1983, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 205-235.
  4. Doyle M.W. Liberalism and World Politics. American Political Science Review, December 1986, vol. 80, no. 4, pp. 1151-1169.
  5. Kissinger H. On China. New York, Penguin Books, 2011. 630 p. [Russ. ed.: Kissinger H. O Kitae. Moscow, AST Publishers, 2011. 640 p.]
  6. Pastreich E. Interview: Ezra Vogel: Ezra Vogel on Managing Relations in Northeast Asia. The Diplomat, 25.09.2015. Available at: (accessed 31.05.2021).
  7. Allison G., Hu F. An Unsentimental China Policy: The Case for Putting Vital Interests First. Foreign Affairs, 18.02.2021. Available at: (accessed 31.05.2021).
  8. Allison G. Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? New York, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. 389 p.
  9. Denisov I.E. Evolution of China›s Foreign Policy under Xi Jinping. The International Affairs, 2015, no. 5, pp. 40-54. (In Russ.)
  10. Denisov I.E. Chinese Foreign Policy under Xi Jinping: Continuity and Innovation. Outlines of Global Transformations: Politics, Economics, Law, 2016, vol. 10, no. 5, pp. 83-98. (In Russ.) DOI:
  11. Lukin A.V. Discussion on the Development of China and Prospects for Its Foreign Policy. Polis. Political Studies, 2019, no. 1, pp. 71-89. (In Russ.) DOI:  
  12. Droysen J.G. Geschichte des Hellenismus. Hamburg, F. Perthes, 1836-1843. 808 p.
  13. Brunt P.A. Aims of Alexander. Greece and Rome, October 1965, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 205-215.
  14. Schachermeyr F. Alexander der Grosse. Das Problem seiner Persönlichkeit und seines Wirkens. Wien, Osterreichischen Akademie Der Wissenschaften, 1973. 758 p. [Russ. ed.: Schachermeyr F. Aleksandr Makedonskii. Moscow, Nauka Publishers, 1986. 384 p.]
  15. Goncharov S.N. Chinese Medieval Diplomacy: Relations between the Jin and Song Empires, 1127–1142. Moscow, Nauka Publishers, 1986. 295 p. (In Russ.)
  16. Fairbank J.K., ed. The Chinese World Order: Traditional China’s Foreign Relations. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press,1968. 416 p.
  17. Majumdar R.C. Greater India, 2nd ed. Bombay, National Information and Publications, 1948. 56 p.
  18. Quaritch Wales H.G. The Making of Greater India: A Study in South-East Asian Culture Change. London, Bernard Quaritch, 1951. 209 p.
  19. Mansfield P. The Arab World: A Comprehensive History. New York, Crowell, 1976. 572 p.
  20. Weber M. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. New York, Scribner, 1930. 322 p. [Russ. ed.: Weber M. Protestantskaya ehtika i dukh kapitalizma. Weber M. Izbrannye proizvedeniya. Moscow, Progress Publishers, 1990, pp. 61-272.]
  21. Almond G., Verba S. The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations. Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1963. 586 p.
  22. Levinson J. R. Confucian China and its Modern Fate: A Trilogy. Vol. 1. Berkeley, L.A., University of California Press, 1965. 638 p.
  23. Tu Wei-ming. A Confucian Perspective on Human Rights. Wong Sin Kiong, ed. Confucianism, Chinese History and Society, Singapore, World Scientific, 2012, pp. 1-22. DOI:  
  24. Xi Jinping: Strengthen Cooperation to Push Forward Transformation of the Global Governance System. Jointly Promote the Eminent Goal of Peace and Development for Humanity. Xinhua News Agency, 28.09.2016. (In Chin.) Available at: (accessed 20.07.2021).
  25. Zhang Pei. The Concept of the International System and China’s Foreign Policy. Jianmian Yang, ed. China’s Diplomacy: Theory and Practice, Singapore, World Scientific, 2014, pp. 65-119.
  26. Song Xiaojun, Wang Xiaodong, Huang Jisu Song Qiang, Liu Yang. Unhappy China: The Great Epoch, Great Goals, and Our Domestic and External Difficulties. Nanjing, Jiangsu renmin chubanshe, 2009, pp. 80-106. (In Chin.)
  27. China Condemns US, Canada, UK and EU for Xinjiang Sanctions. People’s Daily Online, 24.03.2021. (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 20.07.2021).
  28. Zhang Shuhua, Guo Jing, Gaoyan Qu. Development of the National School of Political Science in China. Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 2020, vol. 64, no. 11, pp. 84-95. (In Russ.) Available at:
  29. Vasil’ev V.P. Opening of China and Other Articles by Academician V.P. Vasil’ev. Saint Petersburg, Stolichnaya Tipografiya Publishers, 1900. 164 p. (In Russ.)

Registered in System SCIENCE INDEX

For citation:
Lukin A. The Sino-US Conflict in the Light of History of International Relations. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2022, vol. 66, no. 1, pp. 16-27.

Comments (0)

No comments

Add comment






Dear authors! Please note that in the VAK List of peer-reviewed scientific journals, in which the main scientific results of dissertations for the degree of candidate and doctor of sciences should be published for the “MEMO Journal” the following specialties are recorded:
economic sciences:
5.2.5. World Economy.
5.2.1. Economic Theory
5.2.3. Regional and Branch Economics
political sciences:
5.5.4. International Relations
5.5.1. History and Theory of Politics
5.5.2. Political Institutions, Processes, Technologies


Current Issue
2024, vol. 68, No. 5
Topical Themes of the Issue:
  • Are There Any Ways to Break Through the Korean Nuclear Impasse?
  • Contemporary U.S. Taiwan Policy: Balancing on the Edge
  • The Gulf Monarchies’ Vision of the Global Order Transformations and the Russian Place in It
  • At Post-Soviet Space
Submit an Article
The Editorial Board invites authors to write analytical articles on the following topics:
  • changes in the processes of globalization in modern conditions
  • formation of the new world order
  • shifts in civilization at the stage of transition to a digital society

The editors are also interested in publishing synthesis articles / scientific reviews revealing the main trends in the development of certain regions of the world - Latin America, Africa, South Asia, etc.