From the eminent elder statesman, an astute appraisal on Chinese diplomacy from ancient times to the fraught present “strategic trust” with the United States.
Former Secretary of State Kissinger (Crisis : The Anatomy of Two Major Foreign Policy Crises: Based on the Record of Henry Kissinger's Hitherto Secret Telephone Conversations, 2003, etc.) brings his considerable scholarly knowledge and professional expertise to this chronicle of the complicated evolution and precarious future of Chinese diplomacy with the West. Traditionally, Chinese foreign policy as practiced by centuries of emperors was marked by appeasement and generally overwhelming their barbarian enemies with Chinese largesse: the “five baits” included clothing, music, slaves and food to “corrupt” the opponent into seeing things the Chinese way. In their supreme self-containment, the Chinese disdained the importunate advances of the barbarians until the aggressive incursions by the West to force open the barriers to trade in the late 18th century. Foreign threats by the West, Russia and Japan and the series of “unequal treaties” imposed on China impelled it into a period of “self-strengthening” that was finally achieved by the Communist consolidation of power under Mao. From Mao’s declaration in 1949 that the Chinese people “have stood up,” the Chinese practiced a modern form of pursuing the “psychological advantage,” rather than the military (shades of Sun Tzu), in confronting the superpowers. However, a new era commenced under Deng Xiaoping, who was bent on reform and open to travel and new ideas, and normalization of relations with America was finally established under President Carter. Kissinger wisely considers Tiananmen, Taiwan, the elevation of Jiang Zemin and the new era of “cooperative coexistence” maintained by President Hu Jintao. The author warns, however, that despite China’s commitment to a “peaceful rise,” the U.S.-China relationship will continue to contain an underlying tension.
Sage words and critical perspective lent by a significant participant in historical events.