Christoph Rothenbücher


Christoph Rothenbücher

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter/Kollegiat
DFG-Graduiertenkolleg „Deutungsmacht"
Universität Rostock
Universitätsplatz 5
D-18055 Rostock


Chinese attitudes towards rules-based international orders

Meanings of power and powers of meaning in international relations

Puzzle and Research Objectives

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the pandemic and Beijing’s new Silkroad (officially “Belt and Road Initiative” – BRI; and its dubious future after the invasion) complicated the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’s) status in the international community, urging the question what rules-based international orders (RBIOs) and the dispositions of rising powers towards them are. World order describes the cultural, social, political and material meanings of power in the international arena. Major conflicts, however, still ignite on the power of meanings of sovereignty, liberty and justice in global transcultural zones: Is the regression of 'Western' IR creating the new Cold War? Is De-Globalization the leitmotif of this era? Are European governments returning to state-centered foreign policy because China made them follow its example?

Hypothesis and Empirical Basis

The answers to those questions lie in what is hypothesizes here as the PRC's Peaceful China Doctrine on the one hand, and Rising China Doctrine on the other, with a potential Weakness of the West Doctrine as a third element. The empirical basis for the testing of these hypotheses comprises publications on the BRI as a case study of PRC grand scale foreign policy, Chinese political philosophy of IR and field research in Taiwan and the PRC. Through this material the present project attempts to illustrate how the PRC presents itself as the justice-seeking advocate for developing countries within a Peaceful China Doctrine and at the same time militantly promotes a Rising China Doctrine as the 'Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation' in its self-image as new superpower; and how Beijing keeps these two poles more or less in balance.

Research Design

This project contributes to the relational turn in IR headed by Shih Chih-yu (Balance of Relationships, 2019) and others. Relationality is the focus of a new research program, which developed out of the synergies among IR-scholarship of English School, feminist/queer theory and Chinese academia (e.g. Qin Yaqig) and a Bourdieusian sociology. That is why examining the PRC’s position in international political fields and its dispositions towards the rules-systems (institutions) of such fields in this project is inspired by field-habitus-analyses. Surveying the data will thus follow the question how meanings of power and powers of meaning determine foreign policy practices as they manifest in the zone where dispositions and positions meet.



  • Chinesische politische Philosophien internationaler Beziehungen
  • Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) / neue Seidenstraßen
  • Institutionalistische Theorien internationaler Politik
  • Normen-/Überzeugungssysteme in internationalen Beziehungen


04/2020 – aktuell                        Researcher at DFG-funded Graduate School "Deutungsmacht" / Rostock University

04/2018 – aktuell                        PhD Candidate International Politics / Rostock University   

04/2022 - 05/2022                       Visiting PhD Candidate / UC Berkeley

10/2013 – 03/2016                      Chinese Studies – M. A. / Wuerzburg University

08/2014 – 02/2015                      Chinese Studies – M. A. / Peking University

09/2009 – 08/2012                      Modern China – B. A. / Wuerzburg University

03/2011 – 07/2011                      Modern China – B. A. / Peking University


Conferences / Other Activities

05/2022                      Berkeley APEC Study Center Conference "Indo-Pacific Geo-Economic Competition"

04/2022                      Berkeley-Stanford Graduate Student Conference in Modern Chinese Humanities

03/2021                      DGA Conference "Multilevel Dynamics of Identity Formation and Institution Building"

01/2020                      DGA Workshop on Theories in Asian Area Studies

04/2019                      DGA Conference "Asien: Globale Herausforderungen, regionale Konflikte und nationale Positionen"

09/2015 – 10/2015       independent Fieldwork in Xinjiang / Northwest China

09/2014 – 01/2015       German Language Teacher at ECLC / Peking University