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On Chinaby Henry Kissinger
Synopses & Reviews
In this sweeping and insightful history, Henry Kissinger turns for the first time at book-length to a country he has known intimately for decades, and whose modern relations with the West he helped shape. Drawing on historical records as well as his conversations with Chinese leaders over the past forty years, Kissinger examines how China has approached diplomacy, strategy, and negotiation throughout its history, and reflects on the consequences for the global balance of power in the 21st century.
Since no other country can claim a more powerful link to its ancient past and classical principles, any attempt to understand China's future world role must begin with an appreciation of its long history. For centuries, China rarely encountered other societies of comparable size and sophistication; it was the "Middle Kingdom," treating the peoples on its periphery as vassal states. At the same time, Chinese statesmen-facing threats of invasion from without, and the contests of competing factions within-developed a canon of strategic thought that prized the virtues of subtlety, patience, and indirection over feats of martial prowess.
In On China, Kissinger examines key episodes in Chinese foreign policy from the classical era to the present day, with a particular emphasis on the decades since the rise of Mao Zedong. He illuminates the inner workings of Chinese diplomacy during such pivotal events as the initial encounters between China and modern European powers, the formation and breakdown of the Sino-Soviet alliance, the Korean War, Richard Nixon's historic trip to Beijing, and three crises in the Taiwan Straits. Drawing on his extensive personal experience with four generation of Chinese leaders, he brings to life towering figures such as Mao, Zhou Enlai, and Deng Xiaoping, revealing how their different visions have shaped China's modern destiny.
With his singular vantage on U.S.-China relations, Kissinger traces the evolution of this fraught but crucial relationship over the past 60 years, following its dramatic course from estrangement to strategic partnership to economic interdependence, and toward an uncertain future. With a final chapter on the emerging superpower's 21st-century world role, On China provides an intimate historical perspective on Chinese foreign affairs from one of the premier statesmen of the 20th century.
"In this canny, engaging historical study, the ex-secretary of state examines China's foreign policy for insights into its statecraft and soul. Kissinger (Crisis) recaps China's geo-strategic wei qi match — his ubiquitous metaphor for the subtle positioning characteristic of the national board game — from the Korean War to today's trade disputes, emphasizing the relationship with the U.S. as it moved from bitter enmity to cordial interdependence. He grounds his narrative in a penetrating analysis of age-old features of Chinese policy, emphasizing the Middle Kingdom's hauteur, wariness of encirclement — to the Chinese, he argues, America is just another barbarian horde to manipulate — and dread of domestic disorder. As an architect of Nixon's opening to China and a freelance go-between for later administrations, Kissinger is a major figure in the story, and the text often revolves around exegeses of his cryptic dialogues with Chinese leaders. The book therefore oozes Kissingerian realism, with its stress on great power machinations, international balance, and high-stakes summitry and its impatience with human rights strictures; a deadpan wit and cold-blooded candor flash out from clouds of diplomatic euphemism. Though it sometimes feels like a mind game between mandarins of many stripes, and Kissinger's generalizations about Chinese national character can also sound outmoded, this insider's account sheds a revealing light on the contours of Chinese-American relations. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"From the eminent elder statesman, an astute appraisal on Chinese diplomacy from ancient times to the fraught present 'strategic trust' with the United States. Former Secretary of State Kissinger brings his considerable scholarly knowledge and professional expertise to this chronicle of the complicated evolution and precarious future of Chinese diplomacy with the West....Sage words and critical perspective lent by a significant participant in historical events." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Nobody living can claim greater credit than Mr. Kissinger for America's 1971 opening to Beijing, after more than two decades of estrangement, and for China's subsequent opening to the world. So it's fitting that Mr. Kissinger has now written On China, a fluent, fascinating...book that is part history, part memoir and above all an examination of the premises, methods and aims of Chinese foreign policy." The Wall Street Journal
"Fascinating, shrewd....[The book's] portrait of China is informed by Mr. Kissinger's intimate firsthand knowledge of several generations of Chinese leaders. The book deftly traces the rhythms and patterns in Chinese history...even as it explicates the philosophical differences that separate it from the United States." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Henry Kissinger was not only the first official American emissary to Communist China, he persisted in his brokerage with more than 50 trips over four decades, spanning the careers of seven leaders on both sides. Diplomatically speaking, he owns the franchise; and with On China, as he approaches 88, he reflects on his remarkable run. To the degree that Washington and Beijing now know each other, it is in good measure because Kissinger has been assiduously translating for both sides." Max Frankel, The New York Times Book Review
"Fascinating....In On China, statesman Henry Kissinger draws on historical records and 40 years of direct interaction with four generations of Chinese leaders to analyze the link between China's ancient past and its present day trajectory. In doing so, the man who helped shape modern East-West relations presents an often unsettling, occasionally hopeful and always compelling accounting of what we're up against." The Chicago Sun-Times
The eminent historian and strategist reflects on how China's past illuminates its twenty-first-century trajectory, drawing on forty years of intimate acquaintance with the country and its leaders.
In On China, Henry Kissinger turns for the first time at book length to the country he has known intimately for decades and whose modern relations with the West he helped shape. Drawing on historical records as well as on his conversations with Chinese leaders over the past forty years, Kissinger examines how China has approached diplomacy, strategy, and negotiation throughout its history and reflects on the consequences for the twenty-first-century world.
As Kissinger underscores, the unique conditions under which China developed continue to shape its policies and attitudes toward the outside world. For centuries, China rarely encountered other societies of comparable size and sophistication. China was the Middle Kingdom, treating the peoples on its periphery as vassal states. At the same time, Chinese statesmen-facing threats of invasion from without and the contests of competing factions within — developed a canon of strategic thought that prized the virtues of subtlety, patience, and indirection over feats of martial prowess.
Untitled on China examines key episodes in Chinese foreign policy, from the earliest days through the twentieth century, with a particular emphasis on the modern era. Kissinger illuminates the inner workings of Chinese diplomacy during such events as the initial encounters between China and modern European powers, the formation and breakdown of the Sino-Soviet alliance, the Korean War, the opening of relations with the United States, the Tiananmen Square crackdown, and China's accession to the World Trade Organization.
The book traces the evolution of Sino-American relations in the past sixty years, following their course from estrangement to strategic partnership and toward an uncertain future. Kissinger analyzes the two towering figures of the People's Republic of China, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, and their divergent visions of China's modern destiny. With a final chapter on China's twenty-first-century world role, Untitled on China provides a sweeping historical perspective on Chinese foreign policy from one of the premier statesmen of the twentieth century.
About the Author
Henry Kissinger served as national security advisor and then secretary of state under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, and has advised many other American presidents on foreign policy. He received the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Medal of Liberty, among other awards. He is the author of numerous books and articles on foreign policy and diplomacy and is currently the chairman of Kissinger Associates, Inc., an international consulting firm.
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History and Social Science » Asia » China » Peoples Republic 1949 to Present