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The early discourse on international law in China

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses a burgeoning debate on questions relating to international law in China. The Shanghai newspaper Shenbao was an early vehicle for such debates. The viewpoints presented through the Shenbao leading articles show a different and more sophisticated attitude towards international law in the mid-1880s. William A.P. Martin had been explicit in his missionary zeal when hoping for China to accept the moral code of Western international law. The early affirmative perception of international law in China contributed to an interpretation of an ancient Chinese origin of an international order resembling international law. Those arguments have been exceptionally pervasive in Chinese intellectual history both in the West and in the East until this day.

Keywords: China; international law; Shenbao; William A.P. Martin



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