American Tianxia: Chinese Money, American Power, and the End of History

Marilyn Grell-Brisk
2019 Journal of World-Systems Research  
Tianxia (天下) is the Chinese word for 'all under heaven' but the historical meanings and implications have changed over time. The Chinese ethicist who popularized the concept in the wake of China's spectacular rise was Tingyang Zhao in his book Tianxia Tixi: Shijie Zhidu Zhexue Daolun [The Tianxia System: A Philosophy for the World Institution]. For Zhao (2005), the tianxia system involves the marrying of the geographic (all of the physical earth), the psychological (all of the hearts of all of
more » ... e hearts of all of the people in the world), and the institutional (a world political system and institution). It is all-encompassing. All three aspects of tianxia are necessary and interdependent and ensures the primacy of the world over nation-states. This is the opposite of the current Westphalian world-order in which the nation-state and its interests take center stage in international relations. Tianxia, steeped in Confucianism, also involves datong (大同), which implies caring for all of humanity, much in the same way one cares for one's parents. In his provocative book, American Tianxia: Chinese money, American power, and the end of history, Salvatore Babones argues that this very Chinese concept is most apt not for describing contemporary China's role on the world stage, but rather the tremendous influence of the United States. Unlike many world-systems scholars, Babones suggests that the United States is not truly in decline and points to its "powerful overarching force... ordering and stabilizing the
doi:10.5195/jwsr.2019.936 fatcat:a64uicovlzh5pctkkjji5akqmm