Chinese Foreign Relations: Power and Policy since the Cold War

By Garver, John W. | The China Journal, July 2008 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Chinese Foreign Relations: Power and Policy since the Cold War


Garver, John W., The China Journal


Chinese Foreign Relations: Power and Policy since the Cold War, by Robert G. Sutter. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008. viii + 437 pp. US$79.00/£52.00/ euro81.90 (hardcover), US$32.95/£21.99/euro34.63 (paperback).

This is an excellent survey of contemporary Chinese foreign policy, well-suited to use in university classes. With thirty-three years' service analyzing Chinese foreign policy, in both legislative and executive branches of the US government, Sutter's judgements are balanced and mature. His writing style is lucid and his presentation of arguments clear and systematic. Sutter frequently reprises different interpretations of various aspects of China's foreign policy, and does so with fairness and balance. He is not loath to come down on one or the other side of these debates, but does so only after clearly laying out both sides of the argument.

Sutter's overarching thesis is that China's post-Cold War foreign policy is determined through a pragmatic calculation of China's interests, possible gains, losses and risks, plus probabilities of outcomes, pretty much on a case-by-case basis, by a relatively small élite. He frames this in terms of two contending interpretations of Chinese foreign policy. The first is that China's leaders have adopted, and agree on by at least a near-consensus, a long-term strategy of "peace and development". The well-known imperatives of sustaining China's remarkably successful post- 1978 development drive underpin this "line", and mean that China will avoid serious conflict with its neighbors and with other powers, including the United States. Fear of China using its growing power to coerce other states, or to confront the United States over Taiwan, is thus misplaced, according to this interpretation. A second point of view (which Sutter eventually embraces) is that there are very different opinions within China's decision-making élite, with some influential voices, especially in the military, viewing the world as a very dark and hostile place in which China must be prepared to use force when necessary to defend its interests. Under certain circumstances, this more gloomy and coercive perspective might prevail.

Several sets of evidence tip Sutter's judgement toward the second point of view. One is occurrence of periodic debates over China's foreign policy line: in the mid-1990s over multipolarity and unipolarity, and again in 1999 over military spending and the nature of China's international environment. Whatever the nature of the "peace and development" line, Sutter notes that this "line" has apparently been challenged and debated continually within China's élite. We know exceedingly little about China's internal foreign policy debates, Sutter stresses, but what we know suggests the existence of strong opponents of the reassuring, non-coercive approach of "peace and development".

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Chinese Foreign Relations: Power and Policy since the Cold War
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?