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Canary in the coal mine? China, the UNGA, and the changing world order

  • Samuel Brazys (a1) and Alexander Dukalskis (a1)

How China assumes its position of superpower is one of the most important questions regarding global order in the twenty-first century. While considerable and sustained attention has been paid to China’s growing economic and military might, work examining how China is attempting, if at all, to influence the ecosystem of global norms is in its earlier stages. In this article we examine China’s actions in an important venue for the development of global norms, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Using a unique dataset that captures how other countries move into or out of alignment with China on UNGA resolutions that are repeated over time, we find statistical evidence that China used diplomatic and economic means in an attempt to subtly alter international norms. We further illustrate these findings by examining four states that made substantive moves toward China on resolutions concerning national sovereignty, democracy, international order, non-interference, and human rights.

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* Correspondence to: (both authors) University College Dublin, School of Politics and International Relations, Newman Building G310, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland. Authors’ email:;
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Review of International Studies
  • ISSN: 0260-2105
  • EISSN: 1469-9044
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