Haunted by Chaos: China’s Grand Strategy from Mao Zedong to Xi Jinping

Sulmaan Wasif Khan. Harvard Univ, $29.95 (286p) ISBN 978-0-674-97709-9
Historian Khan brings a polyglot command of primary and secondary sources to bear in an authoritative treatment of Chinese statecraft since Mao Zedong, focusing on grand strategy, or the process of “weav[ing] together different categories of power to win and keep a state.” Exploring Mao’s success in reestablishing “Greater China” after several decades of post–Qing dynasty fragmentation, foreign occupation, and civil war, Khan argues that most of China’s major political and diplomatic initiatives of the last 50 years—including the catastrophe of the Great Leap Forward—were designed with the power and cohesion of the state in mind. Mao’s late-1960s Cultural Revolution, however, remains an unsatisfyingly aberrant exception to Khan’s framework. Nevertheless, through his conceptual lens, the PRC’s vast and diverse constituencies, porous and often disputed borders, regional perils and promises, and painstakingly deliberate rise as global economic giant all tend to make sense as responding practically to existential concerns about the country’s survival. Given China’s outsize presence on the world stage, Khan’s insights into the underlying rationale of its leadership will afford his own effort an audience beyond the field of international relations. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/02/2018
Release date: 07/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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