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Summary - China Goes Global - The Partial Power

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Book summary of China Goes Global -The Partial Power,
David Shambaugh, Oxford UP © 2013, 409 pages

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Summary - China Goes Global - The Partial Power

  1. 1. China Goes Global The Partial Power David Shambaugh Oxford UP © 2013 409 pages Bird’s Eye View of China Due to China’s increasing prominence in global affairs, policy makers and scholars need a trustworthy overview of China and its global impact. “As Napoleon prophetically predicted, China’s awakening is now shaking the world.” Conventional wisdom acknowledges Chinaas the second-most powerful nation after the US and views its emergence as a global power as the most important international affairs event in recent decades. But is China really a superpower? This popular perception is an exaggeration; China is not as influential as analysts believe. History China always claimed to be a superior civilization. Other nations and territories had to adapt to it – and never vice versa. However, placing themselves on a pedestal in this way isolated the Chinese. Imperial China had many separate “ritual” departments to manage its relationships with the outside world. China’s refusal to pander to foreign powers reached a breaking point. Foreigners used brute force to enter China, subjugating it to 150 years of humiliation and exploitation – Mao Zedong called it “semicolonialism” – ending in 1945. In December 1978, China’s Communist Party (CCP) first announced government formulated policies to promote global expansion. As China began to engage in “reform and opening,” the government and the CCP encouraged an international orientation in education, science and technology. In the early ’90s, China began to advance in commerce and in the early 2000s, in culture. China realized that genuine power comes from a nation’s ability to dominate the “economy, science, technology, education, culture, values, military, governance, diplomacy, and other sectors.” Strength in only one dimension is not enough. China must address its internal and global constituencies. It seeks to convince its people that it will never be oppressed again as it was in the 19th and 20th centuries. Externally it must assuage concerns that its growth will lead to military expansionism. It has created an image that prevents observers from seeing the economic and social realities that could hinder its development into a superpower. China’s Power Politics Professor Joseph Nye’s definition of power – “the ability of A to make B do what it would otherwise not do” – applies to China’s emergence as a global actor. In some areas, China does “exercise global influence: global trade patterns, global energy and commodity markets, the global tourism industry, global sales of luxury goods, global real estate purchases, and cyber hacking.” In other spheres, China is remarkably passive, and its
  2. 2. military, commercial and cultural impact is limited. Following the Communist revolution of 1949, China and the world turned their backs on each other. Even after opening up, China remains ambivalent about the international order, which it regards as heavily influenced by Western liberal principles that it distrusts. China has always been uncomfortable with what it calls “power politics.” Internal academic and analytical discussions about international relations influence Chinese foreign policy. These discussions are both open and constrained. Chinese scholars and analysts never attack government policy or advocate that the government take specific steps. Rather, they attack ideas, while never specifically naming the people who propagate them. Certain “cohorts” of thinkers share common beliefs even though they belong to different institutions, including the following: • “The nativists” – This ultranationalist school of thought includes Marxists and populists who tend to “distrust the outside world.” • “The realists” – This school dominates Chinese international relations. Less extreme than the nativist school, it believes Chinese interests should determine foreign policy and it is not concerned with the needs of other countries. • “Major powers” – This school follows the strategic management of China’s relations with other powerful countries and is less interested in other nations, including those in the developing world. • “Asia first” – This school had a decisive influence on Chinese foreign policy at the end of the 20th century. It emphasized the primacy of China’s neighbors and East Asia. • “Global South” – This school suggests that China’s interests should naturally align with those of developing countries. • “Selective multilateralists” – China should expand its international presence gradually in areas that affect its interests and security. China must interact tactically with multilateral institutions and issues – if only to assuage international opinion. • “The globalists” – Proponents are like the West’s “liberal institutionalists.” They say China has “an ever-greater responsibility for addressing a wide-range of global governance issues.” They are “also more philosophically disposed to humanitarianism, embrace globalization analytically” and see the need for “transnational partnerships.” The realist and nativist schools dictate Chinese foreign policy, the major powers school and global South school exercise peripheral influence, and the other schools have negligible influence. Despite the foreign affairs dominance of the realists and nativists, China’s identity is not fixed and may change. China’s belligerence stems from the realists’ and nativists’ influence. China has journeyed from isolation to integration with the international community. Nevertheless, it remains a “partial power” due to its reluctance to get involved with international issues relating to Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Somalia, for instance. Since the foundation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Chinese diplomacy has passed through 10 different phases of alternating engagement and isolation. These phases demonstrate China’s anxiety about security. Under Mao, China’s domestic compulsions often shaped its diplomacy. China is still not entirely comfortable as part of the international community. Its relationships with “neighbors and major powers” undergo repeating “cycles of estrangement, antagonism, ambivalence and normalcy.” Chinese senior leaders and its Ministry of Foreign affairs shape its foreign policy, and its complex relationships with major powers. The factors that shape Chinese diplomacy include its history, its “territorial” and “cultural integrity,” its belief that diplomacy should serve economic and national interests, and its commitment to maintaining internal security and the power of the regime.
  3. 3. China, the United States and Russia China and the US have close economic relationships in trade, investment, tourism and education. Though they try to present an image of friendship, their uneasy relationship is one of “competitive coexistence.” Their approach to the world order differs. The US promotes liberal regimes; China leans toward authoritarian governments. The US’s active role in Asia leads the Chinese to believe that the US wants to “contain” them. China and Russia have a long association. The Republican (Kuomintang) and Communist parties learned from the USSR before the Communist Revolution. Afterward, China and the USSR had a troubled relationship. The CCP saw the Soviet Union’s collapse as a calamity, though it hopes to learn from it. China – pragmatically – recognized the nations emerging from the USSR’s breakup. The Russian Federation and China work to resolve their border disputes. Their trade and energy exports have grown. They share common perspectives on international issues and oppose US “diplomatic initiatives.” China has no “allies,” though, and the world distrusts it. Global Governance As China acquires heft in the global area, it must meet the standards of global governance. This suggests that people and governments must adopt principles founded on equality. China’s establishment rejects liberalism, and is uneasy with global governance and suspicious of the West’s motives for promoting it. China is involved with international institutions and issues, but it still believes the international system is unjust and discriminates against developing nations. China’s internal political structures influence its contribution to global governance. Chinese thinkers discount altruistic behavior and perceive a world where self-interest rules. Relationships within China are based on reciprocity; if you do something for others, they must do something for you. This attitude opposes governance based on ethical norms without the expectation of payment. Chinese citizens don’t believe they have a responsibility to contribute to society or to fulfill any obligation not imposed by the state – like paying taxes voluntarily. Most Chinese believe global governance is the latest ploy to keep China from attaining its rightful world rank. International Trade China’s remarkable growth in international trade has transformed the world. “But scratch beneath the surface and its global position is not as strong as it seems. Although it is a trading superpower, its exports are still dominated by generally low-end consumer products.” China’s government works to promote Chinese exports and restrict imports. It is trying to move Chinese industry from low-end goods and to upgrade its technology. The government encourages innovation. China’s technology lag also shows that it is only a partial power. China is the world’s largest consumer of energy. Its national oil companies search the world for energy supplies, including areas of extreme political instability. China’s national oil companies are small compared to ExxonMobil, BP and Royal Dutch Shell. China’s mining stands out globally. “In 2010, China accounted for an astonishing 40% of global copper demand, driving prices to nearly $9,000 per ton.” The world perceives China’s mineral companies and national oil companies as relentless worldwide predators of production resources. China sources most of its minerals from international markets or through direct agreements with suppliers.
  4. 4. Few of China’s firms are truly multinationals; the bulk of their revenues come from domestic operations. Exceptions are: “In 2012, Huawei overtook Swedish rival Ericsson and became the world’s largest manufacturer of telecom equipment.” China’s tenth-largest carmaker, Geely, bought Volvo from Ford and turned a $190 million profit after one year. Haier, a Chinese household appliances manufacturer, has entered the American market. “Soft Power” China invests in both internal and external propaganda and deploys cultural activities to insulate itself from Westernization and to make China more appealing to the world. This effort has met with little success, and China is, at best, “a partial cultural power,” despite spending $7 to $10 billion per year on its “overseas publicity work.” The government’s effort to project such soft power suffers from China’s inability to present a singular image of its culture. China vacillates between projecting elements of its culture prior to the revolution and portraying its version of modern “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” China has yet to present or demonstrate an image of itself that the rest of the world envies or aspires to emulate. Even as Chinese scholars and analysts debate China’s culture, they must be cautious due to external nervousness about the threat China poses. They also must remain aware of how their government regards their efforts. Security Military might is a marker of a world power. China remains cautious about getting involved outside what it considers its territorial limits. By 2020, China will have the secondmost powerful armed forces in the world. China’s involvement with global security is fraught with contradictions. If China acts “unilaterally” in its own interests, its actions will reinforce the global idea of a Chinese threat. If it acts with other powers, it gains favorable opinion while losing freedom of action. China’s internal conflicts about global governance and “internal security cooperation” prevent it from achieving superpower status. Its main concern has been maintaining sovereignty and protecting itself from external military threats. But its concerns are changing; China now pays more attention to “nontraditional security challenges – ethnic separatism, counterterrorism, energy security, financial stability, cyber security, nuclear proliferation, environmental security, public health, natural disasters, transnational crime and regional ‘hot spots’.” getabstract getabstract About the Author getabstract getabstract Political science and international affairs professor David Shambaugh directs the China Policy Program in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University.

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