Email this review


Despite the regular shifts between radical and moderate factions in the Chinese Communist leadership, predicting Chinese foreign policy in the immediate future is no easier than for any other powerful nation. That's one conclusion that emerges from this interesting collection of six articles on various aspects of Chinese foreign relations, by as many China experts. Historian Michael H. Hunt (U. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) notes the continuity over the past century and more of a division among Chinese policy-makers and intellectuals between ""cosmopolitan"" and ""nativist"" camps--a division that continues among the Communists, formerly thought to be entirely of the cosmopolitan stamp. Political scientist Kenneth Lieberthal (U. of Michigan), in an essay on the connections between Chinese foreign policy and domestic politics, adds a new wrinkle by distinguishing three groups within the Communist regime: nativists, eclectic modernizers, and ""all-around modernizers."" His threefold classification corresponds to three different social groups who benefit from the policies pursued in each instance: anti-intellectual and anti-bureaucratic figures have flourished in periods of nativist supremacy, such as during the 1950s Great Leap Forward or the 1960s Cultural Revolution; bureaucrats advance under the banner of Soviet-style eclectic modernization, as in the early 1950s; and intellectuals and entrepreneurial individuals do well in a period of all out modernization, such as the one currently under way. Lieberthal thinks that, with the ebb of China's heroic revolutionary phase, some of the tensions that come along with all-out modernization, such as the boon to coastal cities at the expense of interior ones (favored under the Soviet-style system), will lead to a swing away from current policies. That, in turn, will mean a less open relationship with the US and Japan than many people are hoping for. The other contributors agree that the perception of a weakened Soviet Union has led the Chinese leadership to distance itself from the US and to adopt a more independent position; in any event, the main focus of Chinese policy is on Asia, where China has consistently relied on successful bilateral agreements with other Asian nations--rather than on broad regional agreements--to ensure its territorial sovereignty and expand its trade relations. No one here sees China as a threat to its neighbors on either a military or economic level--in economic terms, the gulf between China and the industrial powers (Japan, South Korea, etc.) may be unbridgeable. Still, the contributors hedge their bets: the past is a guide but there's no telling what the next group in charge in Beijing will actually do. Sound, intelligent scholarly stuff.

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 1984
ISBN: 0300036280
Publisher: Yale Univ. Press