VIEWS: 6 PAGES: 5 CATEGORY: Social Sciences POSTED ON: 6/18/2010
Those interested in China's rise should read [Yong Deng]'s book in conjunction with Bobo Lo's Axis of Convenience, a readable dissection of the SinoRussian "strategic partnership." Lo's contribution is especially timely, given the rising profile ofthe relationship between Beijing and Moscow. His central argument is that, contrary to the optimistic rhetoric of both governments, the relationship is suffering because of competing priorities and longstanding historical prejudices. The Sino-Russian relationship ought therefore to be understood as an "anti-relationship," driven above all by "strategic convenience" rather than a shared long-term vision (3-4). In Lo's interpretation, Russia's priority is to retain its great power status, whereas China aims to sustain economic growth and preserve domestic peace. What unites the two nations is merely a defensive agenda against unipolarity. However, Lo argues, this weak bond exposes the relationship to potential distrust. As a result, both end up valuing their ties to the US more than to each other. In place of a Sino-Russian "normative convergence" that various observers have discerned, Lo sees a "values gap," according to which the rhetoric of the relationship only conceals its weaknesses (52-55).
| Reviews | CHINA’S STRUGGLE FOR STATUS The Realignment of International Relations Yong Deng New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. 312pp, US$29.99 paper (ISBN 978-0-521-7145-0) AXIS OF CONVENIENCE Moscow, Beijing, and the New Geopolitics Bobo Lo Washington, DC: Brookings, 2008. 271pp, US$32.95 cloth (ISBN 978-0-815- 7534-07) EAST ASIAN MULTILATERALISM Prospects for Regional Stability Kent E. Calder and Francis Fukuyama, editors Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008. 281pp, US$25.00 paper (ISBN 978-0-801-8884-96) It is now commonplace to suggest that the 21st century will belong to Asia. Yet it is unclear exactly what implications the revolutionary shift of power from west to east will have. The central issues are how China’s growing influence will affect both its neighbours and the international system in general, and what goals Beijing will pursue with its newfound might. As the three books under review reveal, these questions urge us to develop theoretical frameworks and policy responses to grapple with the effects of China’s rise. According to power-transition theory, changes in the international distribution of power result in war. In considering China’s growing power, however, Yong Deng suggests that Beijing is following “an alternative path for great power recognition” in an effort to avoid destabilizing the international system (3). In this view, China’s core objective is the pursuit of international status. Drawing on Max Weber’s contention that a “dominant ‘status group’” owes its privileged position to both material resources and a strongly shared identity, Deng argues that the west has defined a hierarchical international order based on respect for the “socially established values” of democratization, economic openness, and responsible sovereignty (23-26). States that deviate from these values will see their international legitimacy undermined as they elicit the opprobrium of western states, which in turn | 870
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