"Shu Guang Zhang's meticulous research on the American-led economic embargo against the People's Republic of China fom 1949 to the 1963 Sino-Soviet split brings forward a great deal of new information and, not surprisingly, new conclusions. In clear prose, Zhang explains American goals, perceptions of the efficacy of the sanctions, and why three different presidents maintained them. On the Chinese side, he describes and explains the reactions to the blockade."International Journal
"Zhang has provided an excellent contribution to understanding the Sino-Soviet relationship, Western alliance relations, and the utility of economic sanctions. It is well worth the time of readers interested in economics or international relations."John Soares, Kentucky Historical Society
"...this is an outstanding work of contemporary history, thoroughly researched and elegantly written."American Historical Review
From the Inside Flap
The literature on sanctions has largely concluded that they tend to be ineffective in achieving foreign policy objectives. This study, based on recently declassified documents in the United States, Great Britain, China, and Russia, is unusual in that it looks at both sides of “the China embargo.” It concludes that economic sanctions provide, in certain circumstances, an attractive alternative to military intervention (especially in the nuclear age) or to doing nothing. The author argues that while the immediate effects may be meager or nil, the indirect and long-term effects may be considerable; in the case he reexamines, the disastrous Great Leap Forward and Anti-Rightist campaign were in part prompted by the sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies. Finally, though the embargo created difficulties within the Western alliance, Beijing was driven to press the USSR for much greater economic assistance than Moscow thought feasible, and the ensuing disagreements between them contributed to the collapse of the Sino-Soviet alliance.
Going beyond the rational choice approach to international relations, the book reflects on the role of mutual perceptions and culturally bound notions in shaping international economic sanctions. In addition to contributing to a better understanding of the economic aspects of Cold War history, the book attempts to give more empirical substance to the developing concept of “economic diplomacy,” “economic statecraft,” or “economic warfare” and to relate it to the idea of conflict management.