Olivier Sempiga


For some scholars, International Relations (IR) theories possess universal explanatory power whereas for others Western (European-Atlantic) IR theories have hijacked other truths as if Western regimes of truths were universal. This led Western nations to embark on process of promoting liberal values in various parts of the world. Liberalism has ruled the world for many decades and has become the status quo. But with the rise of China –dubbed peaceful rise – there has been a kind of an “End to the End of History”. This paper seeks to answer the question: Does China offer a new narrative and an alternative voice in International Relations? Schools within IR have been calling for recognition of voices other than Western ones. Africa is one of those areas that are embracing the Chinese mode of proceeding and where the peaceful rise is beginning to havea great impact. Having suffered from colonialism and the consequent dire poverty and economic decline for so many decades and failing to fully embrace Western liberal principles, many African countries have turned East mainly to China since it conforms to their authoritarian nature and at the same time indicates that it is possible to have economic growth without democratizing. This paper will show how China although not yet ready to uproot the liberal order with another kind of order draws on those liberal values that benefits China but at the same time turning away those elements of liberalism that do not serve it. In the era of multiculturalism, it seems adequate to accommodate non-Western voices into IR discourse. China may not challenge the existing order through violent ways like other would-be hegemonies did. But through its peaceful rise/development and soft power, China is set not only to become a new hegemony but it will provide a new narrative and alternative voice in IR. I will first of all give a sketch of the emerging Chinese IR theory. I will then show how the Beijing Consensus challenged the Washington Consensus. With clear cut examples from African nations, I will present China’s model as a worthy alternative for African nations. The paper draws from my contact with Chinese workers in Africa and exposure to Chinese companies’ activities.