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|Digital List Price:||1,260.00|
Save 424.56 (34%)
|Sold by:||Amazon Asia-Pacific Holdings Private Limited|
China's Search for Security 2nd ed. , Kindle Edition
|Length: 434 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||Language: English|
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In my opinion this book covers two central themes: the evolution of trade between China and the world over the years; and how China's ethnic makeup has affected both their internal politics and security concerns with China's immediate neighbors. This is a very simplified view of the book of course. There is much discussion on Taiwan, the PLA, how China interacted with the US and Russia during the Cold War, and the theory and structure of government for example; but in my opinion these and other topics in the book serve to explain China's security through these two main themes of trade and ethnic identity.
This isn't a history book; there is not much discussion of the Revolution for example, only what is needed to describe how Taiwan became such a central issue with the US (and the world). There are at times very detailed descriptions of the back and forth diplomatic dialogues and specific treaty language revisions. But this is tempered by more concise descriptions of China's economic progression from post-WWII clear through to their entry into the WTO.
A quote towards the end sums up the book for me. A Chinese government official said, "The theory that there is one set of universal truths serves the idea of the centrality of the West. Therefore, we must emphasize and strengthen the study of the differences between the Eastern and Western cultures." This was followed by a discussion on how China promoted authoritarianism in the 1980's as a valid form of government in the region. China isn't opposed with how the West operates on the world stage so much as with how they perceive that the US unfairly dominates the world stage. It's not a question of what type of government other countries have, just that China obtain favorable conditions with those countries to trade for the China needs.
The challenges China has faced and is facing are daunting and complex, as are the government's responses. This book does an excellent job of introducing the reader to them.
I found the last chapter directed to suggestions for the future somewhat pollyana.
It is not at all clear that a person steeped in Chinese political thought would look at China's challenges in the same way as expounded here. My impression is that the POV adopted here is that of Western political thinkers confronting Chinese geopolitical challenges. While highly instructive, it may not be a reliable guide to China's future evolution.
Earlier China relied on its Great Wall to help defend against outsiders. Today's methods of protection are more virtual - a nonconvertible currency, regulatory obstacles to full foreign access to the domestic economy, repression of organizations with foreign connections, surveillance of foreigners and foreign-connected Chinese, and its 'Great Firewall' that restricts its populace's access to the international Internet. Meanwhile, its citizens have become less tolerant of pollution, its per-capita GDP still considerably lags that of Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, its one-child-per-family policy starting in the late 1970s has brought an aging population, its estimated 160 million migrant workers and numerous petitioners are buffeted by the global economy, and maritime territories along its 9,000-some miles of coastline include a number it does not control - eg. Taiwan and Japan, while in the far west, dissidents in Tibet receive moral and diplomatic support from fellow ethnic communities and sympathetic governments abroad.
States contiguous to China include seven of the world's fifteen largest nations, five with which China has been at war during the past 70 years (Russia, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and India), as well as at least nine nations with unstable governments (North Korea, the Philippines, Myanmar/Burma, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan). In addition, China has had border disputes since 1949 with each of its 20 immediate neighbors - though most have been settled. And the U.S., though thousands of miles away, must be contended with because of the stationing of military forces much closer to China than the U.S.
Finally, geography leaves China more exposed than any other major power to damage from global climate change. Its densely populated North China Plain has suffered from a water shortage since the early 1980s (in 2002 China began building the South-North Water Transfer Project, comprising three canal systems totaling over 2,000 miles - however, northern aquifers are on track to dry up w/i 30 years) .
As of now, China stations no troops abroad and there is no sign China intends to use military force to seize territory beyond what it already claims, to drive the U.S. out of Asia. But is building capacity to frustrate American intervention in the Taiwan Strait and enforce its own territorial dominance. Within a few decades the Chinese navy could roam the oceans the way the U.S. does now, the renminbi could replace the dollar as the largest international reserve currency. And democratization, if it occurs, is unlikely to bring fundamental change in China's foreign policy objectives. Nonetheless, China recognizes what even when it becomes the world's largest economy, its prosperity will remain interdependent with that of global rivals.
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