China is rightly considered an emerging power in world affairs as Chinese leaders, backed by growing economic and military strength, engage in innovative diplomatic approaches that pave the way for China's international role. But this is only part of the story of China's rise. As Robert G. Sutter meticulously shows in this thoroughly updated and balanced assessment, the record of twists and turns in Chinese foreign relations since the end of the Cold War highlights a very different perspective. Domestic problems, nationalism, and security concerns continue to preoccupy Beijing, complicating China's influence and innovations in foreign affairs. On the international front, the actions of other powerful nations and growing dependence on the world economy complicate as well as enhance China's advance to international prominence. Providing a comprehensive introduction to Chinese foreign relations, Sutter shows Chinese leaders exerting growing influence in world affairs but remaining far from dominant.
Facing numerous contradictions and tradeoffs, they move cautiously to avoid major confrontations, costly commitments, or mistakes that could undermine their one-party rule as they deal with an international environment posing numerous challenges as well as opportunities for Chinese interests.
Robert G. Sutter is professor of practice in international affairs at the Elliott School of George Washington University.