China threat? Evidence from the WTO

James Scott*, Rorden Wilkinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


The rise of China has elicited a voluminous response from scholars, business groups, journalists and beyond. Within this literature, a 'China Threat Theory' has emerged which portrays China as a destabilizing force within global politics and economics. Though originating in Realist accounts, this China Threat Theory has spread across to other approaches, and it increasingly forms the backdrop against which scholarly work positions itself Our article contributes to this debate by examining China's role within the World Trade Organization (WTO). It assesses the extent to which China has been the disruptive power that it is often claimed to be. In particular, the article examines the change identified in Chinese diplomacy around 2008, and argues that this is attributable to the process of learning and socialization that China had to undergo as a new member, coupled with its elevation to a position of decision-making power. Contrary to the China Threat Theory, we find little to suggest that China has adopted an aggressive system challenging mode of behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)761-782
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of World Trade
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


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