The article examines whether there is reciprocity between the legitimating effects of China’s regime at home and abroad and how global governance and legitimacy interact in the case of China. This is done through an analysis of Chinese climate politics and China’s engagement in international climate negotiations and governance, especially its behavior during and after the Copenhagen Climate Summit in December 2009 and the Chinese regime’s efforts to legitimate this behavior. While China’s role in international climate governance was disputed at the Copenhagen Summit, China contributed constructively to brokering a deal with significant implications for a new climate governance architecture suiting China’s preferences and being aligned with China’s core interests. China defended the procedural logic of the current global climate governance framework and managed to contain institutional change. Based on Anthony Giddens’ proposition about “radicalism at the centre”, it is argued that China’s national and international discourse on and actions associated with climate change and the international negotiations about the new climate governance architecture seem to be able to reinforce each other and may well have a mutual legitimacy augmenting effect for the ‘radicals at the centre’ of the Chinese regime, provided that they ensure consequential logic through targeted reduction of GHG emissions and a “green transformation” of the economy.
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