The eminent historian and strategist reflects on how China's past illuminates its 21st-century trajectory, drawing on 40 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 40 years, Kissinger examines how China has approached diplomacy, strategy, and negotiation throughout its history and reflects on the consequences for the 21st-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.
On China examines key episodes in Chinese foreign policy, from the earliest days through the 20th 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.
With a final chapter on China's 21st-century world role, On China provides a sweeping historical perspective on Chinese foreign policy from one of the premier statesmen of the 20th century.
"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)
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Long, academic, bland - AN ABSOLUTE MUST READ!
Put this book on double speed playback. It's long. It's very dry and somewhat repetitive at points. It's clearly the bias opinion of one person who has been criticized for his role in world affairs. Nonetheless, the historical perspective on China and the specific insights into the Chinese/American dynamic should not be foregone by anyone interested in political policy or business relationships with China. I came away with a more empathetic understanding of China than I had before, and while I do not think I am qualified to set American policy on China just from reading one book, I no longer view the issue of Taiwan or the Communist party in the same way. America must learn to engage China in a positive way, and informed American voters should read this book.
The best book on understanding China