There is not yet a Chinese international relations theory (IRT) mainly due to three factors: the unconsciousness of ‘international-ness’ in the traditional Chinese worldview, the dominance of the Western IR discourse in the Chinese academic community, and the absence of a consistent theoretical core in the Chinese IR research. A Chinese IRT is likely and even inevitable to emerge along with the great economic and social transformation that China has been experiencing and by exploring the essence of the Chinese intellectual tradition. The Tianxia worldview and the Tributary System in the two millennia of China's history, the radical thinking and revolutions in the nineteenth and twentieth century, and reform and opening-up since 1978 are the three milestones of China's ideational and practical development and therefore could provide rich nutrition for a Chinese IRT. In addition, a Chinese IRT is likely to develop around the core problematic of China's identity vis-à-vis international society, a century-long puzzle for the Chinese and the world alike.

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