"Some countries are obviously stronger than others. Yet modern theories of international politics, deriving from Westphalian normative assumptions of sovereign equality, tend to overlook this fact, treating asymmetry as a form of abnormal, remediable imbalance. Brantly Womack, however, based on an up-to-date yet comprehensive overview of Sino-Vietnamese relations, develops a theory of international asymmetry with implications far transcending this case. His book will thus interest not only East Asian area specialists but all students of contemporary international affairs."
-Lowell Dittmer, University of California, Berkeley
"The book sets out to make a contribution to International Relations theory by examining examples of asymmetry in the power relations between China and Vietnam. He shows that, with a different starting-point, asymmetry could lead to a stability and normalcy that goes against current IR theories about asymmetric relationships between nations. The book offers a valuable correction to some current notions about asymmetry, in particular the idea that it makes for instability and could not be the basis for normalcy. By his close analysis of a two thousand year relationship between China and Vietnam, the author not only shows that the relationship was relatively stable in the past but also explains why it seems to have found a particular normalcy of its own today. There is no comparable work at this level of sophistication. It will be vital reading for all political scientists, especially scholars of international relations, and most historians of Asia."
-Wang Gungwu, National University of Singapore
"Relations between unequals define contemporary international politics, many of these relationships endure while Great Powers rise and fall, and mismanaged asymmetry has painful consequences for the strong as well as the weak. Largely ignored in the theoretical literature, relations between states of greatly different capabilities receive the attention it deserves in China and Vietnam: The Politics of Asymmetry. Brilliantly conceived and elegantly executed, this important amplification of structural realism is a fascinating dissection of a long and turbulent relationship as well."
-William S. Turley, Southern Illinois University
"Brantly Womack's book on relationship between China and Vietnam is an interesting analysis of this long and complex relationship. The study is innovative as it attempts to analyze the long history of relations between the two countries through the use of asymmetry as an analytical tool."
"Womack's volume provides a major contribution for readers seeking an up-to-date, clearly presented, and stimulating assessment on how IR theory informs an understanding of recent Chinese foreign relations and vice versa."
-Robert Sutter, Georgetown University, Perspectives on Politics
In their three thousand years of interaction, China and Vietnam have been through a full range of relationships. Twenty-five years ago they were one another's worst enemies; fifty years ago they were the closest of comrades. Five hundred years ago they each saw themselves as Confucian empires; fifteen hundred years ago Vietnam was a part of China. Throughout all these fluctuations the one constant has been that China is always the larger power, and Vietnam the smaller. China has rarely been able to dominate Vietnam, and yet the relationship is shaped by its asymmetry.