From Publishers Weekly
Halper cogently rejects the conventional wisdom that suggests America's relationship with China is on track in this lucid, probing text. Moving beyond approaches to China that focus on its burgeoning economic dominance, the book—in the vein of Martin Jacques's recent When China Rules the World
—underscores the political and cultural challenge that a rising China presents. Halper (coauthor of America Alone
), a fellow at the University of Cambridge, contends that there is little possibility of a genuine partnership between China and the U.S.; continued growth will not lead China's political system to become any more free or open, and its brand of authoritarian capitalism will compete with the West's democratic ideal as a possible model for the developing world. Though his position may seem pessimistic, the author does believe that China's concern with its prestige in the world gives the United States leverage in its attempt to shape the geopolitics, and he concludes this sobering, excellently argued book with a series of concrete policy recommendations to that end. (Apr.)
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Halper’s contribution to the current torrent of tomes about China’s foreign policy asserts that D.C. wonks misunderstand the subject. Whether military alarmists or free-trade optimists, the Beltway cognoscenti (among whom Halper can be counted as an associate of the Nixon Center) misconstrue the aims and motivations of Chinese leaders. They are not likely to invade Taiwan, nor will they democratize, as hoped by proponents of liberal capitalism. Halper instead maintains that China’s international intentions are inimical to liberal values as it diligently seeks to supplant Western influence in the developing world. Spared lectures about human rights and rule of law, despots are delighted with the offer of an alternative to the Western international order. Labeling China’s foreign policy as authoritarian capitalism, Halper diagnoses it as rooted in obtaining access to natural resources, in turn an outgrowth of the Communist Party’s reliance on economic growth for popular acquiescence to its rule. To students and general-interest readers, Halper’s perspective and advice to American policy makers is a clearly conceived, jargon-free appreciation of China as ideological rival as well as commercial partner. --Gilbert Taylor