Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books: Asia and Pacific: The Rise of China vs. the Logic of Strategy/Looking for Balance: China, the United States, and Power Balancing in East Asia/China Goes Global: The Partial Power

Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books: Asia and Pacific: The Rise of China vs. the Logic of Strategy/Looking for Balance: China, the United States, and Power Balancing in East Asia/China Goes Global: The Partial Power

Article excerpt

The Rise of China vs. the Logic of Strategy BY EDWARD N. LUTTWAK. Belknap Press, 2012, 320 pp. $26.95.

Looking for Balance: China, the United States, and Power Balancing in East Asia BY STEVE CHAN. Stanford University Press, 2012, 304 pp. $50.00.

China Goes Global: The Partial Power BY DAVID SHAMBAUGH. Oxford University Press, 2013, 432 pp. $29.95.

These works concur in their skeptical assessments of the threat posed to the United States by China, but their reasoning is different. Luttwak invokes what he calls "the logic of strategy," which "applies in perfect equality to every culture in every age." Since aggrandizement generates resistance, he argues, China's economic and military rise is producing a seemingly paradoxical decline in its diplomatic influence. Behind a screen of anodyne communiqués and innocuous military meetings, he decodes evidence that China's neighbors are tightening their cooperation with the United States. This should send a message of caution to Beijing, but like all major powers, China is afflicted with what Luttwak tartly labels "great-state autism," which leads it to respond with more assertiveness, only accelerating the formation of the coalition against it. Luttwak believes that frictions might decrease, although not disappear, if China were to democratize. Meanwhile, he hints that China's rivals should take measures to slow China's rate of economic growth, although he is not clear about what those measures should be.

Chan challenges the application of balance-of-power theory to today's Asia. Because Asian governments, including China's, need to foster prosperity to legitimize their rule, they have an incentive to cooperate with one another and with others. The United States also gets more benefit from economic relations with China than from strategic rivalry. Chan employs historical analysis and international relations theory to show that peaceful shifts in relative power are not unusual. …

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