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U.S.-Chinese Relations: Perilous Past, Pragmatic Present Paperback – June 16, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0742568426 ISBN-10: 0742568423

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (June 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742568423
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742568426
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,077,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Over the years, Robert Sutter has been among the most knowledgeable of all American specialists on China. In his ambitious new book, Sutter describes the twists and turns of Sino-American relations over the past two centuries. Sutter shows how American and Chinese policymakers have a strong interest in avoiding public discussion of the conflicts between the two countries and the negative aspects of their relationship; he then proceeds to show, skillfully, just what those conflicts have been and will be. This is a sober account, a perceptive look at where the United States and China have been and where they are headed. (James Mann)

One of Robert G. Sutter's major contributions in U.S.-Chinese Relations: Perilous Past, Pragmatic Present, is to underline clearly how broad is the uncertainty even among China specialists for what many believe is the 21st Century's most important bilateral relationship. . . . Sutter provides an extensive historical assessment of U.S.-Chinese relations that helps put present day issues in perspective, and provides a basis for predictive analysis about the future. And while Sutter recognizes that pragmatism has often rescued the relationship from seemingly intractable problems, he also acknowledges that pragmatism may have its limits when truly vital interests are at stake. (John Bolton Hong Kong Economic Journal)

Robert Sutter has again delivered an insightful analysis of the recent past and possible future of this pivotal bilateral relationship. Sutter examines the areas of shared interest between these two great powers and the sources and consequences of possible conflict. He provides a vital road map to understanding the knowns and even larger number of unknowns as China asserts its regional dominance and global influence. (Michael Schaller)

There is a wealth of historical information and a few take home messages in Robert G. Sutter's recent book. (The Epoch Times)

Sutter (visiting professor, Georgetown Univ.) provides a well-documented and concise analysis of the evolution of US-China relations from the pre-WW II period to the 21st century. In chapters that deal with specific areas of concern in US-China relations, Sutter provides well-reasoned analyses of the mix of domestic and international factors influencing the evolution of both US and Chinese policy. Sutter also provides a nuanced presentation of the extent to which both states have come to recognize the benefits of a more stable relationship even in the light of more immediate crises that threaten to disrupt that relationship. Although Sutter has a definite point of view with respect to most of the areas of mutual concern salient to US-China relations, such as general security, Taiwan, environmental issues, and issues of human rights, he provides an evenhanded analysis of each of these issues. His conclusions regarding prospects for the future of Sino-American relations are cautiously optimistic based upon his assessment of the extent to which pragmatic considerations will continue to constrain the policy actions of both states. Summing Up: Recommended. (Choice)

One of the strengths of the book is Sutter's ability to articulate the shifts in the U.S.-China policy from one administration to another throughout the post-war period. (Contemporary Southeast Asia)

Sutter provides a sobering, insightful account of . . . what has become the single most important bilateral relationship in world politics today. . . . The timely nature of this material, the clear, detailed and accurate coverage of key issues, and insightful discussion of crucial historical events combine to produce a book that is likely to be profitably used in advanced undergraduate courses on US-China relations. (The China Journal)

About the Author

Robert G. Sutter is visiting professor of Asian studies in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Hande Z on December 30, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the years ahead, America will be watching China more assiduously and closely, and vice versa. Robert Sutter has produced a widely informative, carefully balanced account of the relationship between the old power and the emerging power. It contains a useful historical account of the how the US emerged from a careful nation not wishing to antagonise Japan as it ravaged China prior to World War II, to become the most important foreign power in China after World War II and the period of estangement during the Cold War years before Nixon and Mao made the all-important step of rapprochement and the normalization of the US-Sino relationship. Sutter devoted a large portion of the book to the modern status and relationship of these two countries, commenting on the important issue of security, the implications of China's military buildup and the sovereignty of Taiwan and Japan. He discusses the shift in China's large land forces to one that will meet its new objectives of denying land and sea access to its adversaries.

Any book dealing with the US-Sino relationship must neutrally examine political developments in both. This Sutter has done admirably, examining the rise of the 110th Democratic Congress in the US and its impact on the US-Sino relationship, and the strategies adopted by the Obama administration. Sutter examines what each side is doing while fairly assessing their parochial concerns. China's disagreements with the USA he says, can be grouped into four categories which he identifies as (1) opposition to US support for Taiwan; (2) opposition to US attempts to change China's political system; and (3) opposition to the US playing the (not 'a') dominant strategic role in China's periphery; (4) opposition to many aspects of US leadership in world affairs.
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