The Foreign Service Journal, March 2021

88 MARCH 2021 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL A Country in Broad Strokes China and the World Edited by David Shambaugh, Oxford University Press, 2020, $27.95/paperback, e-book available, 416 pages. Reviewed by Philip A. Shull From economics and trade to military and cyber security to environmental degradation and human rights, the global impact of the People’s Republic of China makes a basic understanding of the PRC imperative for governments, businesses and a well-informed citizenry. Prolific China scholar David Shambaugh deserves our thanks for providing a highly read- able edited collection of essays on China and its foreign relations since 1949 in China and the World . Shambaugh has assembled an impres- sive array of renowned experts to describe and assess modern China’s evolving pres- ence on the world stage. With vast experi- ence in academia, think-tanks, diplomacy and defense, the authors summarize Beijing’s key bilateral and regional rela- tionships, its growing membership and influence in international organizations, and the role of domestic pressures and institutions in shaping its foreign policy and developments within what Sham- baugh calls “domains of China’s global interactions” (i.e., economic, cultural, governance and military-security). Taken together, these chapters paint a mural of a country that has undergone an astonishing if stuttering metamor- phosis—from the isolated, war-ravaged destitution of the 1950s to today’s market- shaking, tech-savvy nuclear power that struts a blue water navy and the world’s second-largest economy. There are interesting details amid the brushstrokes. We learn, for example, that China comprised 18 percent of global GDP in 2018, that its manu- facturing capacity is 50 percent larger than that of the United States and that its 14,000-mile border along 14 countries is the longest land border in the world. We also learn that President Xi Jinping’s popular but strategically targeted anti-cor- ruption campaign launched in 2012 had by 2018 investigated 2.8 million party and state cadres, held 58,000 trials and pun- ished 1.5 million people. Of course, this tally does not include the Xi administra- tion’s persecution andmassive internment of Uighurs in Xinjiang. Shambaugh notes the international community’s restrained response and postulates China’s economic prowess has “successfully intimidated foreign governments into silence.” Shambaugh aims to provide the reader with a “broad and deep” expo- sure to China today. As with almost any single volume of such breadth, this one succeeds in spades on the former and in clubs on the latter. The essays are instruc- tive and insightful, but many go only knee-deep into their topics, reminding this reader of the lovely Chinese chengyu (four-character saying), qingping dian shui , which translates roughly as “drag- onfly flitting over the pond.” Some readers may chafe at a few of the generalizations and omissions. The chap- ters by Yale historian Odd Arne Westad (in which he argues, “China’s present is determined by its past”) and by distin- guished former diplomat Chas Freeman Jr. (“China is both a civilization and a state”) are excellent, but too short. A few paragraphs contrasting Chinese civilization’s myriad accomplishments, inventions and unrivaled supremacy over millennia with the deeply scarring influence of the West’s “gunboat diplomacy,” treaty ports and Japan’s brutal invasion that, taken together, brought the “death by violence of at least 50-60 million Chinese” between the 1840s and 1940s would have addedmore power and sharper relief to the single page on “The Century of Humiliation.” More importantly, deeper historical foundations could help readers better understand the PRC’s approach to the world since 1949—an often baffling com- bination of paranoia and pride, swagger and insecurity, and open contempt for many of the international organizations it is now struggling so hard to lead. Further, while valuable space is taken up recounting irrelevant events (e.g., President Xi’s apparent limp during a 2019 visit to Europe), provocative asser- tions are left without the “why” explana- tions they deserve. Why is the current “adversarial, antagonistic” U.S.-China relationship cast as permanent and a closer China-Russia relationship deemed inevitable? And why frame the tensions in the U.S.-China bilateral relationship as “unfortunate” only for China? (I can think of about two million American farmers who would say the pain goes both ways!) Finally, the book’s lack of a single detailed map is a glaring oversight, especially in Phillip Saunders’ important chapter on China’s military-security inter- actions. Few Americans are aware that the official PRC “nine-dash-line” border var- ies starkly from the United Nations’ map. Chinese actions to assert its sovereign claim to “historic territorial rights” in huge swaths of the South China Sea are a source of serious tension and potential conflict. That said, authors do delve deeply BOOKS