From Coexistence to Cooperation? The Dynamics of China’s Legal Approach to the United Nations and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation


  • Nicusor Sever Cosmin Florea University of International Business and Economics, School of International Relations, Beijing, China



China and International Law, United Nations Security Council, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Multilateral Cooperation


This article analyses China’s dynamic legal approach to multilateralism with regard to an international organisation (United Nations - UN) and a regional organisation (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation - SCO), showcasing how international normative crystallization influenced China's views on multilateralism and determined her evolution from a reluctant actor to an active supporter of multilateralism and a facilitator between regional (SCO) and international organisations (UN).

China’s engagement with the United Nations has been the country’s perhaps most distinguishing feature regarding her approach of the international normative order. After discussing whether and to what degree of extent China could be considered a contributor to the "International Rule of Law", the article moves on to identify how China solved the inherent conflict between her Westphalian views on sovereignty and her role in the UN Security Council (UNSC). While providing multiple examples on China's practice in the UNSC, the study finds out that, despite having crossed various stages in her approach to the UNSC, China's respect for sovereignty continues to remain constant in her international legal practice. Finally, China's role as a facilitator between the SCO and UNSC is analysed to showcase how, despite attaching paramount importance to national sovereignty, China became a catalyst of multilateral cooperation.

In the light of China’s legal practice, the study concludes that a new stage in China's relation with International Law could be envisaged and such an evolution would not weaken, but consolidate, both the UN and SCO.

Author Biography

Nicusor Sever Cosmin Florea, University of International Business and Economics, School of International Relations, Beijing, China

Lect. Nicusor Sever Cosmin FLOREA

 Nicusor Florea is a Lecturer of Political Science at the University of International Business and Economics, Department of International Relations and a Doctor in International Law. Nicusor earned his PhD degree from China University of Political Science and Law (Department of International Law).

His doctoral thesis copes with the Chinese approach towards Public International Law from an evolutionary perspective and tries to offer a qualified analysis of the most relevant dimensions to modern China’s engagement with International Law in order to achieve an anticipatory-value theory. He published several articles in peer-reviewed academic journals, on-line academic journals and edited volumes.

He has been granted the distinguished Foreign Scholar of People’s Republic of China Scholarship by China’s Ministry of Education in 2015. Since 2016, Nicusor has been appointed as Foreign Expert of People’s Republic of China and lecturer of International Relations at the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE), Beijing.

Between 2011 and 2012, Nicusor worked as a strategic communications consultant in Indonesia and Malaysia, advising clients ranging from public agencies, public universities, national institutes and multinational companies. In 2013, he worked as a political consultant based in Bucharest, Romania.

Nicusor teaches several courses on Comparative Politics, Core Concepts in Political Science, International Relations and the Theory of International Relations, at graduate and postgraduate level, within the School of International Relations, UIBE.

He is a native speaker of Romanian, fluent in English, and has knowledge of Chinese, Malay, Bahasa Indonesia and Italian.


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