cover image China Goes Global: The Partial Power

China Goes Global: The Partial Power

David Shambaugh. Oxford Univ., $29.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-19-986014-2

A “dissatisfied and angry power” that is “not ready for global leadership” is the verdict from this measured, deflating assessment of China’s global presence. Shambaugh (Charting China’s Future), a George Washington University political scientist, tags the Middle Kingdom with a risk-averse, irresponsible, narrowly self-interested foreign policy that sows mistrust and leaves it with no allies, a modernizing but still weak military, a maladroit public relations effort marred by stilted government sloganeering, and a gaping deficit of soft power in a world that rejects its parochial culture and authoritarian governance. The result, he argues, is that China “punches way below its weight in international diplomacy” despite its swelling economic might that has upended world energy and commodity markets. The author writes a lucid, highly readable overview of China’s government policy-making apparatus, media, military ambitions and capabilities, trade and investment patterns, and strained relations with almost every region of the world; he’s especially thorough in untangling competing strands of bellicose nativism and liberal internationalism among Chinese international affairs theorists. Drawing on interviews with Chinese policymakers and his own perceptive observations of their conflicting impulses, Shambaugh pointedly corrects the usual hysterical exaggerations of Chinese power. His is an illuminating profile of a colossus that does not—yet—bestride the world. (Feb.)