China Rising: Power and Motivation in Chinese Foreign Policy

Article excerpt

China Rising: Power and Motivation in Chinese Foreign Policy, edited by Yong Deng and Fei-ling Wang. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005. viii + 349 pp. US$82.00 (hardcover), US$34.95 (paperback).

This edited volume seeks to study various factors bearing on the motivational structure of China's foreign policy. Fei-ling Wang's chapter defines this motivational structure as consisting of three Ps: (political) preservation, prosperity and power/prestige, of which political preservation is the most important. However, to use regime survival and political and social insecurity to interpret China's diplomatic behavior is becoming increasingly out of touch with reality. Many of China's recent diplomatic initiatives are better explained by other considerations.

In the following chapter Yong Deng argues that "international status" more than power is the "most desirable value" in the Chinese foreign policy discourse. He thus challenges the general realist theme that "what money is to economics, power is to international relations". He notes that status politics does not have to be a zero-sum game. China's reconfigured status conception puts emphasis on foreign acceptance and this aspiration can be molded and fulfilled without threatening the interest of the United States.

Peter Hays Gries sees bottom-up popular pressure as playing an increasingly central role in Chinese foreign policy. Chinese nationalism can therefore no longer be described as a purely "state" or "official" affair. However, the conventional wisdom of Western policy makers considers nationalism in an authoritarian state like China as a top-down product. Gries warns that this is "at their own peril".

In the next chapter, Thomas Moor points out that globalization is an increasingly salient context for understanding Chinese foreign policy, and attempts to show that China has preference for advancing its interests through deepening the economic and security interdependence of the existing international system. He argues that, by most measures, China is not following the classical balancing strategy against the United States as expected by traditional great-power theories. Economic globalization provides the means by which China can pursue an alternative strategy for coping with the US hegemony. This raises the possibility that China's leaders may have begun to pursue a fundamentally different approach to great-power politics, one that improves prospects for peaceful change in the international system. …