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Anna Caffarena

University of Turin (EURICS Fellow)
By other means: what China’s approach to multilateralism tells about the future of global governance
01 April 2022 -
31 May 2022

Anna Caffarena is Professor of International Relations and academic coordinator of the master program in International Sciences at the Department of Cultures, Politics and Society, University of Turin. She is Chairwoman of the Torino World Affairs Institute (T.wai) overseeing its three research programs: Global China, Asia Prospects and Violence & Security. Her present research interests include world order issues sparked by emerging China and multilateralism. Her most recent book focuses on the role of images in perpetuating the security dilemma in world politics, and how some specific social representations impinge on the crucial relationship between China and the United States.
In April 2022, she joins the EURICS Program.

Research interests

International order, China, multilateralism, the role of images in world politics

By other means: what China’s approach to multilateralism tells about the future of global governance

 common wisdom that China’s action will deeply impact the future of global governance. Since Beijing has explicitly taken upon itself a more assertive role in the global order, the interest for its moves has risen sharply. Two reasons explain such widespread attention: China’s diplomatic prowess and the puzzling complexity of its action in this domain. The research addresses this matter by looking at China’s attitude towards multilateralism, a key issue for those who believe that only a rules-based order can preserve a working international system.
A strong reason behind China’s recent appreciation of multilateralism is that it serves a consistently multipolarizing world better than any other known organizational framework. Such appreciation, however, does not entail the adoption of qualitative multilateralism, the lever that is thought to enable states to overcome the security dilemma through mutual accountability.
Two broad sets of questions ensue. First, which understanding of multilateralism characterizes Beijing? Which ends does it serve? How is China conceiving effective global governance in an increasingly competitive world? Second, is China suggesting a different organizational framework, with respect to the present rules-based order, entailing an adequate level of mutual accountability and, at the same time, more respectful of its present reading of sovereignty? China’s multilateralism will thus be explored as the country’s “way to governance” and world order.


Key publications

Caffarena, A., Gabusi, G., "Europe-China and the Third Way: Steering Order in Times of Change. Evidence from the AIIB and WTO Reform", in Li Xing (ed.), China-EU Relations in a New Era of Global Transformation, Routledge, London 2021, pp. 19-36.

Caffarena, A., Cina, "Multilateralismo e ordine internazionale", in G.B. Andornino, Cina. Prospettive di un paese in trasformazione, Il Mulino, Bologna 2021, pp. 43-55.

Caffarena, A., "Diversity Management in World Politics. Reformist China and the Future of the (Liberal) Order", The International Spectator, vol. 52, no. 3, 2017, pp. 1-17.

Contemporary period (1789-…)
Eastern Asia