Customer Reviews: The Coming Conflict with China
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on September 25, 1998
A well-written and researched book. The authors take a realistic geo-political view of the relationship between China and the United States. Their focus on the regional hegemony that drives China's foreign policy is eye opening. There are definitely problems ahead for the U.S., if for no other reason than this nation's economic investment in the Pacific Rim. But obviously there are other reasons, not the least of which are our security interest with Japan and Taiwan.
Perhaps the most intriguing and, clearly, the most troubling assertions from the authors are their detailed explorations of the China Lobby. If true, it is a disaster in the making. The highlights of which can be glimpsed in the Clinton administrations potential betrayal of this nation's security interest. The careless and cavalier manner in which technology has been transferred to the Chinese reflects the unrealistic representation of the Chinese government, their goals, and their interest, as portrayed by this country's most distinguished statesmen acting as a China Lobby.
A must read to understand the 21st century's geo-political world.
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on April 21, 2000
I was assigned this book for a class in East Asian-World Politics, so I read it thoroughly and was thoroughly disappointed. The assumptions that this book is based on are fallacious and misguided, and the authors seem to have no understanding of either Chinese political culture or the nature of international relations. To begin with, the book spends most of its time highlighting and exaggerating sources of tension between the two countries, and seems to assume that every tension between two states will inevitably lead to full-scale war. This assumption is sadly mistaken. In fact, the United States and Canada have outstanding disagreements on a number of issues, yet experience close relations and have the longest unguarded border in the world. The book relies mostly on provacative statements made by members of the Chinese Communist Party to support its thesis. It ignores the fact that it is common practice in Chinese politics to speak loudly and negatively about whomever China currently disagrees with. Just because a member of the National People's Congress says war with the United States is inevitable over human rights doesn't mean it will happen. Have the authors ever heard Jesse Helms (or many other senators, for that matter) speak? Note their reluctance to use force to settle the Taiwan issue. The entire book comes off as a heavily-biased college paper on US-Chinese relations. The fact that they use virtually no primary-source material or Chinese-language material not already translated adds to this perception. It appears that the authors decided the hypothesis of the book beforehand, and simply searched for information to support their theory. As flawed and biased a book as I have come across in a long time.
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on March 27, 1998
The central premise of Richard Bernstein and Ross Munro's "The Coming Conflict With China" is that China's rise to power necessarily puts it on a collision course with the United States. Needless to say, there is absolutely no evidence that this premise is true. Three developments that have occurred during the year since the book's publication demonstrate its inaccuracy. First, relations between the U.S. and China have warmed considerably, and indications are that this trend will continue. Second, since its reunification with China, Hong Kong has not experienced the grim "crackdown on human rights" that Bernstein and Munro so confidently predict. And third, relations between China and Taiwan are slowly but surely thawing, and will likely lead to resumed negotiations before the end of the year, despite the authors' claim that war between China and Taiwan is fairly likely. Furthermore, Bernstein and Munro's argument is patchy and unconvincing, at best. For example, one of their main theses is that Beijing has officially identified the U.S. as China's main enemy; in order to prove this, the authors provide a list of anti-American quotations from various Chinese officials, generals, and intellectuals. However, this proves only that there are anti-American voices in China (is this a surprise?), NOT that this is Beijing's official policy. It would be just as easy to compile a list of anti-China quotations from American sources, but this would prove nothing. Amusingly, Bernstein and Munro assume with unusual arrogance and Eurocentric conceit that American hegemony in Asia is the only natural and viable option for world order. Apparently, it has never occurred to the authors that it might actually make more sense for China to be the dominant influence of Asia than for the U.S. to be so. But the worst aspect of "The Coming Conflict With China" is its repetitiveness. Chapter after chapter, the authors restate their thesis, adding semi-relevant tidbits of data, as though each reprise contributes to the argument's validity. The Taiwan Strait incident of 1996 is mentioned at least a dozen times, always with the same ominous tone of foreboding signficance. Nevertheless, the book's arguments finally fall apart; the authors are unable to build a solid framework of concepts on given data. Rather, they attempt to alarm and distract and provoke the reader until their arguments take root. It's an interesting technique executed with moderate competence, but for people who are acquainted with the realities of the situation, it just doesn't work.
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on April 2, 2001
Contrary to what many people here have stated, this is an excellent study of Sino-American Relations. This book uses information from official Chinese sources, history, and other sources to weave a tight and well reasoned thesis about China and China's relation to America. This is well worth reading and buying.
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on April 19, 1998
A very good book that has a depth and breadth far, far above that of the usual texts on Sino-American relations. Moreover, it avoids much of the cant and pussy footing which surrounds geopolitical issues which need to be discussed candidly. For non-Americans as well, it is especially refreshing to see issues concerning America's allies in the context of this relationship given their due. From afar, and reading some other American authors on this subject, one could be forgiven for thinking that Beijing-Washington relations existed in a vacuum. Not so in this book and for this mature perspective the authors are to be congratulated.

Summing up, my view is that this is a very good book for those interested in this pivotal relationship of the coming century.

It is thought provoking and aggressive, and whatever else you may think about the Berstein-Ross thesis, for this alone I would advise buying this book.

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on July 15, 2000
Not at all informative, this book seems to have taken its cue from Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations" theory: the authors construct a model for the future U.S.-China confrontation that they almost seem to hope will come about. Although nestled in scholarly language and presented as the views of experts on China, most of the argument seems based more on stereotypes and American paranoia than any actual fact. Also annoying is the authors' assumption of the general benignity of U.S. policy in Asia; it never occurs to them to question the designs of U.S. policy-makers and businesses in the region...
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on July 5, 1997
The Coming Conflict with China serves as a tabloid view of US-China relations for the next century. There is no question that friction between these powers exists and will continue without clear and unambiguous diplomatic signals passing between the countries. However, Bernstein and Munro appear to buy into the hypothesis that China is expansionist and aggressive, which at this point in history is an anachronistic view. In reality, China is indeed grappling with significant change and has a resurgence of self confidence due to its economic development and the reunification with Hong Kong. There is still apprehension in political circles as indeed the communist party is losing control of the provinces especially in the southeast. It is also no secret that Taiwan is an active investor in China and both sides will avoid conflict. The real party to watch is Japan which wants to encourage Sinophobia to reestabish its military. Unfortunately, the authors did not see beyond stereotypes or scratch beneath the surface of current events. Had they done so the book would have been more enlightening
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on February 27, 2011
This will be a good beginners book for those unfamiliar with China and its history. Nevertheless; this book does not have tremendous information that is not already well known. The material is also more than 10 years old and outdated. Much has changed in Chinese/American relations. I believe the authors are correct in there assertion that one of these days Taiwan will be the focal point that will decide the fate of our relations with China. Will we fight to save Taiwan or will we repeat the failed policy of appeasement? The scenario I envision is a bankrupt U.S. unable to continue its role of peacemaker in Asia. We will be a "paper" tiger and China will seek hegemony and dominance in Eurasia.
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on February 7, 1998
Written by two journalists, The Coming Conflict is a well researched, smoothly written overview of U.S.-Chinese relations in this century. The book presents some sobering facts about China's motivations and political ambitions in the Pacific. These are facts the U.S. must consider carefully. The book chastizes U.S. businesses for essentially "rolling over" on behalf of Communist China for the sake of making money. Would recommend another book which talks about China's "backdoor" military and diplomatic relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran called "The Rise of the Islamic Empire and the Threat to the West" (also listed at Amazon Books Web site). China, after all, was the nation that sold the Iranians those Stinger missiles...Interesting book. Hat's off to the two authors!
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on July 8, 1999
Actually the book itself is not "stupid." That argument is too subjective for this critic. However, I would like to say that the authors of this book came to no concrete conclusions. And any quasi conclusions they derived were founded on generalizations and speculation. I would also like to note that there facts and examples are sounds yet they apply in a lose way that anyone with a high school degree can come to the same conclusions they did. In short, any one with a paranoid mind and some of the facts could have written this book.
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