Throughout the course of history, the ancient Chinese notion of the Mandate of Heaven has played a fundamental role in guiding China’s foreign relations. The Mandate of Heaven is based upon the idea that the ruler of China has the authority to reign from Heaven. However, the Mandate of Heaven could be revoked if the Chinese leader did not adhere to strict moral guidelines, as evidenced by the fall of numerous dynasties throughout China's history. To better understand 21st century foreign relations with China, it is instructive to explore and recognize how China views itself historically. Through an improved understanding of China’s self-perception and history, observers can apply these lessons to future foreign relations. It is also beneficial to view recent events in American foreign relations with China through the lens of Chinese self-perception, examining the impact of the Mandate of Heaven on American relations with China. By claiming the Mandate of Heaven, China subscribes to the viewpoint that their leaders have a divine right to rule and that other nations should be subservient to their divinely appointed leadership. If a diplomat is faced with the opportunity to negotiate, they would do well to consider the history of China and the Mandate of Heaven. Recent foreign affairs including Tiananmen Square and the debate over Taiwan’s sovereignty likewise reflect the importance of understanding the Chinese perspective in conducting Sino-American relations.
"Kowtowing and Paying Tribute to China: How China’s Self-Perception and the Mandate of Heaven Shapes China’s Foreign Policy,"
Bound Away: The Liberty Journal of History: Vol. 5:
2, Article 6.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/ljh/vol5/iss2/6