How the Idea of Tianxia Can Help Us to Reimagine the Global Order

Visiting Scholar Talks

Mar 26, 2024 | 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Common Room (#136), 2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA,


Liu Qing | Zijiang Distinguished Professor, East China Normal University; HYI Visiting Scholar, 2023-24


Peter K. Bol | Charles H. Carswell Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University

Co-sponsored by the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

With the ascent of China on the global stage, traditional Chinese thoughts, particularly Confucianism, have experienced a resurgence. Over the past two decades, the concept of “Tianxia” (All Under Heaven) has garnered significant interest. This research delves into the potential contributions of Tianxia to contemporary political thought, with a focus on normative theory. It examines whether this concept can aid in mitigating ultranationalism in our globalized era and foster a novel global perspective that encourages peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, and shared progress among nations. The presentation is structured into two main sections. The first section offers a critical examination of recent discussions surrounding Tianxia, highlighting its contemporary relevance as intellectual inspirations while acknowledging its inherent limitations. The second section deals with the challenges posed by cultural diversity in establishing foundational norms for a post-hegemonic world order. It emphasizes the need for a new global vision that transcends both the Sinocentrism associated with Tianxia and the Eurocentrism prevalent in traditional cosmopolitanism, and makes an argument in advocating for a new cosmopolitanism centered around the concept of “transcultural universality.”