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Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once described diplomacy as “the art of restraining power.” As China unleashes its economic power, and its political and military strengths continue to mount, what role will diplomacy play in China’s fate in the 21st century? In great depth and detail, author Bates Gill, an expert on China’s foreign policy, explains a dramatic change in the way China views the world, and in its approach to national security and international relations. This shift has taken China far from the Maoist age of supporting terrorism and counterrevolution, and into a new era that emphasizes collaboration and cooperation, participation in international initiatives, and some compromise on such issues as sovereignty. Gill scrutinizes each cog in China’s diplomatic machine (except the U.S.'s debt, which has grown in signficance over time) and provides a thorough historical background. Though this book is remarkably well-researched and revealing, its style is more suitable to academia than to general interest reading. Yet, getAbstract reckons that international relations enthusiasts with an interest in China’s role in the world can learn a lot from it.


China’s New Approach to Security

China’s early-20th century international relations were unsuccessful. Although China was a member of the League of Nations, the world powers at the end of World War I granted control of its Shandong Peninsula to Japan at the Paris Peace Conference. Although China fought against the Japanese alongside the U.S. and its allies in World War II, America later abandoned China’s Communists in favor of Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists in Taiwan, and even went on to form an alliance with former foe Japan. Thus, China’s main international partners for much of the latter half of the 20th century were its Communist comrades – the Soviet Union and North Korea.

Under Chairman Mao’s leadership, China’s rhetoric emphasized themes of war and revolution. But in 1982, Deng Xiaoping, then China’s leader, replaced these themes with the idea that the world was moving toward development, “multipolarity” (where numerous countries or multinational institutions, such as the U.N., govern the world order), globalization and relaxation of tensions. Deng claimed that China needed a “stable international environment” in order to achieve its domestic reforms. Thus, ...

About the Author

Bates Gill is the director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. He is a co-author of China: The Balance Sheet. He is the former director of the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution.

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