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Why the Liberal World Order Will Survive

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 March 2018


The crisis of the American-led international order would seem to open up new opportunities for rising states—led by China, India, and other non-Western developing countries—to reshape the global order. As their capacities and influence grow, will these states rise up and integrate into the existing order or will they seek to overturn and reorganize it? The realist hegemonic perspective expects today's power transition to lead to growing struggles between the West and the “rest” over global rules and institutions. In contrast, this essay argues that although America's hegemonic position may be declining, the liberal international characteristics of order—openness, rules, and multilateralism—are deeply rooted and likely to persist. And even as China seeks in various ways to build rival regional institutions, there are stubborn limits on what it can do.

Roundtable: Rising Powers and the International Order
Copyright © Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs 2018 

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2 For an overview of the “rise and fall” of rising states during the Obama years, see Suzanne Nossel, “The World's Rising Powers Have Fallen,” Foreign Policy, July 6, 2016,

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12 See G. John Ikenberry and Darren Lim, “China's Emerging Institutional Statecraft: The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Prospects for Counter-Hegemony,” Brookings Institution Report (Project on International Order and Strategy), Washington, D.C., April 2017.