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"Fascinating, shrewd . . . The book deftly traces the rhythms and patterns of Chinese history." —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
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. On China illuminates the inner workings of Chinese diplomacy during such pivotal events as the initial encounters between China and tight line modern European powers, the formation and breakdown of the Sino-Soviet alliance, the Korean War, and Richard Nixon’s historic trip to Beijing. With a new final chapter on the emerging superpower’s twenty-first-century role in global politics and economics, On China provides historical perspective on Chinese foreign affairs from one of the premier statesmen of our time.
mostly Han general population. “Scarcely a year now passes,” he noted, “without an insurrection in some of the provinces.”7 9780143121312_OnChina_TX_p1-530.indd 64 2/17/12 9:54 AM From Preeminence to Decline | 65 The dynasty’s Mandate of Heaven having been put into question, domestic opponents escalated the scope of their defiance. Their challenges were both religious and ethnic, providing the basis for conflicts of encompassing brutality. The far western reaches of the empire witnessed
course of action they named 9780143121312_OnChina_TX_p1-530.indd 74 2/17/12 9:54 AM From Preeminence to Decline | 75 “self-strengthening.” In one 1863 memorandum, Li took as his starting point (and as a means of softening the blow for his imperial readership) that “[e]verything in China’s civil and military system is far superior to that in the West. Only in firearms is it absolutely impossible to catch up with them.”26 But in light of its recent catastrophes, Li counseled, China’s elite
In 2011, a statue of Confucius was placed in Tiananmen Square within sight of Mao’s mausoleum—the only other personality so honored. Only a people as resilient and patient as the Chinese could emerge unified and dynamic after such a roller coaster ride through history. 9780143121312_OnChina_TX_p1-530.indd 112 2/17/12 9:54 AM C H A PT ER 5 Triangular Diplomacy and the Korean War I of foreign policy, Mao Zedong traveled to Moscow on December 16, 1949, barely two months after having
still favorable to the invading North Korean forces and the front was still deep in South Korea around the city of Pusan, Mao, skeptical about North Korea’s capabilities, told the Politburo: “If the American imperialists are victorious, they will become dizzy with success, and then be in a position to threaten us. We have to help Korea; we have to assist them. This can be in the form of a volunteer force, and be at a time of our choosing, but we must start to prepare.”40 At the same meeting, Zhou
power were ascendant. Mao adopted this notion, declaring pungently that the “East Wind” now prevailed over the “West Wind.” But he drew from the apparent relative decline of American power a conclusion uncomfortable for his Soviet allies, namely that China was in an increasingly strong position to assert its autonomy: “Their real purpose,” Mao later told his doctor, “is to control us. They’re trying to tie our hands and feet. But they’re full of wishful thinking, like idiots talking about their