Sino–American Relations: Challenges Ahead by Yufan Hao (ed.). Farnham: Ashgate, 2010. 254pp., £55.00, ISBN 978 1 4094 0797 3
Article first published online: 10 JAN 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Political Studies Review © 2013 Political Studies Association
Political Studies Review
Volume 11, Issue 1, pages 96–97, January 2013
How to Cite
Lane, J.-E. (2013), Sino–American Relations: Challenges Ahead by Yufan Hao (ed.). Farnham: Ashgate, 2010. 254pp., £55.00, ISBN 978 1 4094 0797 3. Political Studies Review, 11: 96–97. doi: 10.1111/1478-9302.12000_37
- Issue published online: 10 JAN 2013
- Article first published online: 10 JAN 2013
This book is an excellent example of how quickly Chinese and American academics have created networks of research collaboration. All the authors in this volume have a mixed academic record, involving Chinese scholars with US training or US university positions, and vice versa for US scholars. The outcome here of this amazing interpenetration of US and Chinese academia is a carefully edited volume that attempts to penetrate behind the diplomatic facade of Sino–American foreign relations.
It is a rich book, covering developments since the famous Nixon–Kissinger opening of the US to interactions with Mao's China. Understanding the opportunities for further peaceful cooperation between these two world giants is critical for teaching international relations, but so is grasping the danger of a future US–China collision over hegemony in the Pacific region. Understandably, this group of scholars underlines the importance of no change in US–China relationships, fearing the downside negative more than the upside positive in relation to the status quo.
In well-researched chapters, this book presents the history of foreign relations between these two countries. Rendering justice to the complexity of interactions between the US and China, the volume cannot arrive at a single model for describing interactions that are sometimes variable-sum and at other times threateningly near zero-sum. Thus, we read about relationships or interactions that amount to an ‘engagement’ that is ‘complicated’ as well as ‘comprehensive’, involving a ‘convergence of interests’ among ‘strategic competitors’ or ‘stakeholders’ facing ‘mutual penetration’ and ‘growing interdependence’.
I could find only one objection to make in relation to these highly relevant analyses. When discussing the triangular game between the US, China and Russia, it is stated somewhat carelessly that ‘the domestic systems of China and Russia display similarities and affinities. This phenomenon, exaggerated by neoconservatives as a “re-alliance of autocracy”, in fact reflects the efforts of both nations to fulfill the goals of marketization and democratization under a strong centralized administrative force and on the basis of their particular domestic circumstances’ (p. 138). In my opinion, the modernisation efforts of both Putin/Medvedev on the one hand and Jintao/Jiabao on the other are aiming at other objectives than democracy, such as economic development and nationalism. However, one may dare to predict that China will only succeed in deepening its collaboration with the US by means of promoting political modernisation values at home. China has benefited tremendously from economic modernisation by linking up with the global market economy. Now that China is at the crossroads, it must accept the other side of modernisation, or the postmodern society, underlining ecology and the rule of law.