The Coming Conflict with China

Article excerpt

THE COMING CONFLICT WITH CHINA by Richard Bernstein and Ross H. Munro. 245 pages. Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1997. $23.00.

At its heart, The Coming Conflict with China is a book about changeChina's and the United States' shifting attitudes and positions. The authors conclude that the change has not been good for the United States.

China's attitude toward the United States has shifted from one of basic friendship to a recognition of the United States as a threat to China's position in Asia and the world. Two major factors led to this shift. One was the Persian Gulf conflict, which brought home to China the fact that the United States outclassed the competition in military equipment and tactics. The other was the warming of the relationship between China and Russia. China's need for US friendship is greatly reduced by an improved relationship with Russia.

China has also become more aggressive toward the rest of Asiaseizing the Paracel Islands and Mischief Reef, attacking across the Vietnamese border and sinking ships in the Spratleys area. China has also successfully moved its industrial base from low-technology, laborintensive industries to high-technology industries with greater profit margins.

In the next several years, China's economic output will overtake Japan's. China's foreign exchange reserves are some of the largest in the world-over $90 billion in 1996.

US policy toward China has been ineffective. About one-third of China's exports come to the United States, yet the United States fails to use its purchasing power to change Chinese policy. …