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China's Asian Dream: Empire Building along the New Silk Road Kindle Edition
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To answer that inquire Miller marches that route and observes just what has happened in each setting and tries to gauge what are the likely consequences, both economically and politically. As colonial Europeans retreated China advanced, especially in Africa, but then onto to Latin America and now under One Belt One Road into all parts of Asia, the former Soviet States of Central Asia and up into Russia planning rapid transit systems to rush products to Europe. But wait America there is talk of a submerged tunnel under the Bearing Straits into Alaska, Canada and as far south as Vancouver.This is the content of his book, well presented with detail and some humor, an enormous undertaking, but he also leaves us with his conclusion as to the impact of that effort on the relations between the two great powers China and the United States of America.
There are no givens here: China has achieved much recognition as both a beneficial and a troubling neighbor and each of its many neighbors have to learn how to achieve self interest with out becoming a satellite entity – the rewards are rapid economic development often trading resources for infrastructure investment. The likely outcome for many is to try to utilize the desires of the giants as a balancing act without losing political and economic sovereignty. This is a story that has been told historically before, some times with tragic results. Miller’s take is comforting as he does not see War as an outcomes (the Thucydides trap), but there is an implied assumption that the U.S. will accept some sharing of the status of Great Power and recognize China’s new role in world affairs – a large but not impossible assumption.
Who would enjoy this work? I certainly did as it answered many questions with regard to what has happened and what is planned and why along Xi Jinping’s so-called “One Belt, One Road.”
The chapter on the South China Sea is excellent as are many others. A very informative and balanced report.
Very Maoist in a sense, and as one of the interviewees says, reminiscent of the 1957 Great Leap Forward, when all efforts were focussed on increasing steel production. Of course, that ended in massive waste.
I found this a vivid and informative work. As in his first book "China's Urban Billions", Mr Miller shows authentic familiarity with Chinese strategy, and interacts easily with scholars, soldiers, tarts and merchants. Like a latter-day Francis Younghusband or 19th century Colonial Office Principal, he travels 1000s of km up and down the Mekong and deep into Central Asia, describing the impressive reach of China's efforts to bind these vast tracts of land closer, through infrastructure and trade.
It is a stirring and even noble vision. People will surely think of the US Marshall Plan. China is not deploying army bases or nuclear weapons but civil engineers, labourers and intrepid traders. Yet China's assertiveness in the South China Seas is too blatant and risky in the eyes of status quo nations of SE Asia and risks pushing the region towards the US.
China's strategy also seems in some ways to be a subsidy for the existing politico-economic structure, offering subsidies for struggling state-owned industrial companies in new markets.
But a serious problem remains - China does not have the soft power to exploit its often beneficial projects. Nationalistic Asian countries (of which Mr Miller offers wonderful vignettes) such as Vietnam and Burma loathe Chinese penetration, despite their dependence. Soft power is a murky term, but China is poor at creating the love and admiration that the US evokes in many quarters, however unjustifiably.
If you are interested in a book combining academic erudition with a correspondent's eye for colourful detail , and which focuses on the great story of China's rise, this book is for you.
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