China and the Major Powers in East Asia

China and the Major Powers in East Asia

China and the Major Powers in East Asia

China and the Major Powers in East Asia


The foreign policy of the People's Republic of China has been dominated in recent decades by the problems of dealing with the other major powers in East Asia. Although many ideological, political, and economic aims have shaped particular Chinese policies, Peking's dominant concern has been national security. Since the late 1960s, its leaders have viewed the Soviet Union as the primary threat to China and have pursued a distinctive, Maoist, balance-of-power strategy against it.

China's post-Mao leaders continue to give priority to strategic considerations and the problems of relations with the other major powers. It cannot be assumed, however, that they will simply continue past policies. The recent changes both within China and in the broad pattern of international relations in East Asia have created a new situation.

In this study, A. Doak Barnett analyzes in detail China's bilateral relations with the Soviet Union, Japan, and the United States. He also examines the changing nature of the four-power relationship in East Asia. On this basis, he discusses possible future trends in Chinese policy and the prospects for achieving a more stable regional equilibrium.


Although China is an ancient civilization, it has only recently become a major power. Its influence in the world community has increased greatly since the early 1970s, when it was seated in the United Nations and established new ties with the United States and Japan. One result has been the emergence of an entirely new pattern of four-power relations in East Asia.

There is now widespread recognition of China's growing international importance, but still relatively little understanding of its leaders' motivations and goals and the mainsprings of its foreign policy. in this study, A. Doak Barnett analyzes China's relations with the three other major powers in East Asia--the United States, the Soviet Union, and Japan- and the complex multilateral interactions among the four. He begins by examining in depth China's dealings with each of the other powers during the past quarter-century. His analysis emphasizes the factors that have influenced the evolution of each bilateral relationship and the problems likely to confront it in the future. He then discusses the nature of the new four-power structure in East Asia and China's place in it, and assesses the forces working for and against equilibrium in the region.

The problems dealt with in this book have dominated Peking's foreign policy and the broader regional scene in recent decades and will continue to be important in the future. the prospects for peace and stability in the region will depend both on what policies China's post-Mao leaders pursue and on whether the other major powers adopt policies toward the People's Republic that reflect, among other things, an understanding of Chinese motives, objectives, and strategies. Barnett's purpose is to throw light not only on the past, but also on probable future problems and trends. This book thus complements his China Policy: Old Problems and New Challenges . . .

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