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Chinese Defense and Foreign Policy

Chinese Defense and Foreign Policy
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Edited book , Index , Notes
$14.95 (11.21)
Two common themes emerge from the diverse topics addressed by the authors of this volume. First, there is ongoing interaction and mutual reinforcement between Chinese domestic politics and China’s international behavior. The country’s overriding domestic priority is economic modernization, which has entailed a rational, pragmatic approach to reforming the institutional and systemic problems which have been impeding progress. All Chinese leaders agree that the modernization process will be expedited by some degree of international help, despite some differences of opinion on the amount of that help and from whom it should come. This has increased the level of the Peoples Republic of China’s (PRC) interaction in the international community, and global involvement has in turn bolstered domestic trends toward pragmatism.

The past decade has seen the PRC transformed from a revolutionary to a reformist–and, in some sense, even a conservative–state. China has become a force for stability in both the region and the world at large. There is a consensus among PRC leaders that stability, both domestic and international, is a sine qua non for the country’s economic modernization.

The second common theme to emerge is a corollary of the first: while constantly reiterating their country’s unswerving commitment to principle, Chinese leaders have in fact been willing to compromise when practical considerations indicate that this is desirable. This has expedited negotiations on a wide range of issues from textile quotas to the retrocession of Macao, as well as enhancing the PRC’s reputation as a responsible regional actor.

The web of interactions linking China with the outside world has now enmeshed the PRC in the international community to a degree that only the most catastrophic and unlikely circumstances would allow the country’s return to isolationism or one-sided dependence on the Soviet bloc. Interdependence will almost certainly character China’s relations with the other nations of the world.

The existence of reform-minded leadership in Moscow as well as in Beijing, and the efforts underway in both system to make the political and economic features of traditional socialism compatible with the requirements of a dynamic modern society, provide a possible linkage between the Chinese and the Soviets that is absent in China’s relations with the West. Ideology, in other words, may again form a unifying bond rather than a cause of conflict

While the strategic dimension of Sino-American relations has changed in recent years, the military-security dimension is still an important part of the overall relationship. In general terms, China views the United States as an important contributor to the economic modernization that is the leadership’s major objective. As trade increases, US investment in China builds and a larger web of economic relations is spun. Hence, the economic dimension becomes more important.

ILPYONG J. KIM is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Connecticut, Storrs and is a past president of the New England Conference of the Association for Asian Studies. He is an active contributor in Asian Studies for the American Political Science Association and is the author of several books including The Politics of Chinese Communism: Kiansi Under the Soviets, Communist Politics in North Korea, and Development and Cultural Change: Cross-Cultural Perspectives.

JUNE TEUFEL DREYER is the director of East Asian programs at the University of Miami, Florida. She has traveled extensively in the Far East and she is the author of many works on China and its military.

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