- Tapa dura: 384 páginas
- Editor: Basic Books (1 de agosto de 2003)
- Idioma: Inglés
- ISBN-10: 0465084125
- ISBN-13: 978-0465084128
Detalles del producto
- Terrill is vague in parts. Take this sentence for example: "Historically, the centralization-devolution swings were sometimes a prelude to dynastic decline and fragmentation, but not always"(pg. 180). There are many wishy-washy sentences like that in "New Chinese Empire." Also, I am in the dark as to what 'synergy' really means in the context of international relations. A more detailed explanation would have been welcomed.
- China scholars would disagree with Terrill that because China does not hold national, free elections, Chinese citizens have no say in their government (see Shi Tianjian's "Political Participation in Beijing"). Elections are not the only, and not even the most effective, mode of participation. Chinese participate in a variety of ways...refusal to attend meetings, local elections, protests against local cadres, letter writing (which Terrill dismisses offhand as 'petitioning the court'), etc.
- Some of what Terrill writes contradicts what I have learned (not to say I am right; conflicting sources automatically make me wary). For example: Terrill claims the protests following the accidental American bombing of the Chinese embassy in Serbia were coordinated by the government. I was under the impression that the government tried its best to get Chinese to stop protesting for the sake of Sino-American harmony.
- Terrill can be overly harsh on China. In his disussion of Sino-Japanese relations, he criticizes China for not letting World War II issues go. To be fair, Japan never has apologized for atrocoties committed in that war, and its nations textbooks do not address the question honestly. The fact that China also censors its textbooks / history does not lessen Japan's blame . Also, there were a few times I felt Terrill was a micrometer away from calling China "Chicom," and he did call it a 'semi-terrorist outfit.' This seems a bit much.
- Terrill's argument seems to rely too much on emotion. He taps into American frustrations at China's grandstanding, and finds a historical basis for it.
- Some of the accusations Terrill waves at China could be said just as equally about America, or any country for that matter. He states China doesn't have allies, and therefore they are inconsistent and dishonest in foreign policy. No country has allies, they have interests, and these interests change over time. Terrill's accusation singles China out, but can be applied to every country in every time.
All those complaints aside, overall I liked this book. I particularaly liked his explanation of China's claims on territory that is simply not theirs (Tibet, Xinjiang, Manchuria, etc.). His view on Taiwan was especially appreciated. He notes that talk about the "Taiwan problem" masks that there is no problem. Taiwan is a healthy, prosperous democracy. The problem is that China claims to own it. Having lived in Taiwan, I can attest to the fact that the Mainland's propoganda claiming that the Taiwan issue is exacerbated by American policy is absolutely false. I have yet to meet a Taiwanese person who thinks "re"unification is anywhere close to a good idea. But I digress...
Okay, so in summary, this book was a good read, but read with a critical eye.
That leaders like Mao and Deng (and even Jiang) were emperors in all but name is something of a cliché, but Terrill gives a fresh perspective to this commonly-held notion. He is well-read in China's history, and shows it here to good effect without weighing himself down with excessive scholarship. His style is light and well-suited to his approach: prove a point to the general reader's satisfaction and then move on.
By far the most interesting sections of Terrill's book are those having to do with China's world view. China has traditionally looked upon not just the rest of East Asia, but even the rest of the world as an extension of China itself. This was not so much a ruling concept as it was a pervasive ruling assumption, and it formed the basis for imperial China. When China was strong, this assumption allowed it to swallow up other areas from Tibet to Vietnam without elaborate conceptual justifications; when China was weak, the assumption was still in force through tributary relations or complex diplomatic relations that allowed Beijing to appear to have the upper hand even when it did not. Circumstances may change, but the assumption is never questioned.
Terrill draws numerous parallels between imperial China and today's new China. Beijing still seeks to punch above its weight by formalizing relationships with other countries in ways China prefers even when it cannot immediately achieve its aims (this explains why China puts such stress on its "One-China" policy with the United States). What is remarkable, he argues, is not so much that China would use this strategy as how successful it is in doing so. Other nations - whether out of excessive respect for China's culture or fear of losing access to China's market - bow down and accede to many of China's demands.
In the area of international relations, this book should be viewed as the counterpoint to "The Great Wall and the Empty Fortress: China's Search for Security." Whereas the authors of that book, Andrew Nathan and Robert Ross, view China as fundamentally conservative in its international outlook, Terrill sees it as potentially destabilizing.
In fact this book reads like the standard far right/conservative nonsense - ignore the facts and twist the evidence to suit a pre-determined point of view. Example - Terrill quotes (with approval) the thoughts of Friedrich Hayek as if these are appropriate to apply to China. In doing so he ignores the current contest over the use of this brand of economics in the West and the hot debate over whether it has any place at all in the developing world.
Terrill also evades much too easily the current global debate over the US as a latter day imperial power.
And he misreads the history of Taiwan and (South) Korea in argung a connection between liberal democracy and capitalist development. In truth both these countries laid the foundation of economic growth through progressive policies of land reform during periods of military dictatorship.
Terrill also misrepresents (for his narrow ends) the position of 'overseas' Chinese and their construction of self-identity. His claim that such people are BOTH Chinese and (say) American glosses over the experience of many who wrestle with belonging in both places and neither at the same time.
After his much more colourful biography of Mao (warts and all I might add) this book was a disappointment. But that does not make it any less a useful insight...this time into the recycled Cold War Warriors of the US.