Victoria Tin-bor Hui, “Toward a Dynamic Theory of International Politics: Insights from Comparing Ancient China and Early Modern Europe,” International Organization, 58 (2004): 175-205.
This article examines why international relations theories presume checks and balances but universal domination triumphed in ancient China. I argue that one should not presume the European experience as the norm and treat ancient China as a deviant case. I propose a dynamic theory of international politics that views international competition as processes of strategic interaction and that allows for alternative trajectories and endogenous transformation. Realist theories of international politics tend to focus on structural mechanisms and overlook agential strategies. At the same time, these theories focus on causal mechanisms that check attempts at domination and overlook mechanisms that facilitate domination. It is true that attempts at domination are checked by the mechanisms of balance of power and rising costs of expansion. But domination-seekers may overcome such obstacles by pursuing divide-and-conquer strategies, ruthless tactics, and self-strengthening reforms. From this strategic-interactive perspective, universal domination is no less possible than the balance of power. a