China's Foreign Relations in the 1980s

Robert R. Harding

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What role will China play in world affairs during the 1980s, now that it has normalized relations with the United States and opened wider its economic doors?  In this thoughtful and important book, six respected scholars analyze the major factors that shape the foreign policies of China today. 


The book begins with an essay by Michael Hunt that puts China’s foreign relations in historical perspective.  In subsequent chapters, Kenneth Liberthal discusses the domestic context of China’s foreign policy, Steven Levine analyzes China’s regional policies within Asia, Bruce Reynolds focuses on the role China plays in today’s international economy, and Jonathan Pollack assesses China’s place in the global strategic competition between the Soviet Union and the United States.  The book concludes with a chapter by editor Harry Harding on change and continuity in China’s foreign policy since 1949. 


The authors bring to their analyses varying perspectives and expertise.  They all agree however, that the historical, political, and strategic determinants of Chinese foreign policy will probably prevent Peking from maintaining an extremely close association with the United States and the West and that in the future China will increase its level of involvement in Asia.  If these projections are correct, Americans must learn to accept a complex relationship with China that contains elements of both tension and cooperation.  Such a relationship will require a sophisticated understanding of China—one that this book will help to provide. 

"By stressing the basic continuities of and the constraints on Chinese foreign policy, Harding and his colleagues have provided a much-needed corrective to the over-optimistic view that Deng's ascension will necessarily propel the country towards a Great Leap Outward."—Wo-Lap Lam, Asiaweek

"The latest in an important series of monographs from the China Council of the Asia Society designed to make some general reflections on modern China from specialists accessible to professionals in the international field, informed readers with China interests, and undergraduates. . . . All readers will be richly rewarded.  Appropriate for all China collections, academic and public." —Choice

"A collection of essays by specialists, without cant or jargon. . . . Useful for both students and interested laypersons."—Library Journal

"The book is unique in that the notion of China being at a threshold or turning point is pursued throughout and is done well.  The editor deserves credit for this. . . . China's Foreign Relations in the1980s is easy to read yet affords the reader in-depth scholarly analysis. Thus, it will appeal to laymen and scholars alike.  Unlike most edited books, the chapters fit very well together to give the reader a notion of direction in Chinese diplomacy and draws implications from that; thus it will be valuable reading to students concerned with U.S.-China relations and international politics as well." —John F. Copper, Perspective

"Harry Harding . . . offers an overall periodization and analysis of post-1949 foreign policy that focuses on changes in 'involvement, alignment, resources, and objectives.' . . . A many-textured portrait of the foreign relations of the People's Republic of China, . .which can be read with interest and profit by specialists and generalists alike. . . .The book is a first-rate introduction to the subject for the nonspecialist and will remain so for several years to come."—James R. Townsend, Journal of Asian Studies

"Among the parade of books on China's foreign relations it is , contrary to normal expectations, the collective volumes which seem to stand out, and this one is among the best.  .  .  .the six authors, mobilized by the China Council of the Asia Society for this study, have achieved an uncommon degree of coherence.  .  .  . What is possibly most remarkable about this book is that none of the authors seems to have policy axes to grind, and all strive to be as objective and realistic as possible, but the end result is some profoundly wise advice on policy toward China.  .  .  . For enthusiasts of warmer Sino-American relations this book should give pause for thought, for these scholars have charted a surer road to a lasting relationship that can be found in simplistic effusions of friendship."—Lucian W. Pye, Political Science Quarterly

"The differing perspectives highlight the significant issues in studying Chinese foreign policy and compel the reader to reach his or her own conclusions....These essays provide much intellectual stimulation for students and scholars of Chinese foreign policy, and are useful for those seeking a general understanding of Chinese policy."—Robert S. Ross, American Political Science Review

"All of the essays have a stimulating and fresh air about them. They are written clearly and simply, avoiding the pitfalls of specialist jargon, and are uniformly informative. . . . A lucid and helpful guide to the complexity of China's foreign relations. At a time when China is playing a much more active part in the international community this can only be beneficial."—R.F. Wye, Asian Affairs

"A mammoth effort of organisation and funding by the Asia Society of the US has brought forth a remarkably interesting book. . . . The chapters include excellent accounts of political, economic and trade changes within China in the 1970s and early 1980s. . . . Thought provoking."—Colina MacDougall, Financial Times

"A thorough and competent presentation of the current period. . . . One of the best attempts from the American perspective to explain the current phase of China's foreign policy and to seek satisfaction from the situation." —Ian Wilson, The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs

ISBN: 9780300036282
Publication Date: September 10, 1986
Publishing Partner: Published in cooperation with the Asia Society
256 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2