cover image THE NEW CHINESE EMPIRE: And What It Means for the United States

THE NEW CHINESE EMPIRE: And What It Means for the United States

Ross Terrill, . . Basic, $30 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-465-08412-8

Experienced China-watcher Terrill (Mao: A Biography) has viewed with a skeptical eye China's emergence as a major player in the international community. In this rather one-sided view of China's future, he implores the West not to pursue a policy of naïve engagement with the People's Republic, citing what he considers to be the dangerous state-centered legacy of the nation's dynastic past. Of principal concern to Terrill is China's continued territorial control over the culturally alien border regions of Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. This imperial expansionism is driven in part by what Terrill identifies as an arrogant sense of entitlement in the minds of China's leaders, coupled with a military capability that he overstates to buttress his provocative conclusion: that China is a "misfit" in the international system and is what Terrill calls a "semiterrorist outfit." The author also argues that if malcontented minorities on China's periphery don't tear apart the Communist regime, then a faltering Chinese economy will. Communist repression limits what Terrill crudely describes as the "Chinese genius for business" and the people's "industriousness," and, he expects, will bring about a powerful backlash against the state. One symptom of the coming collapse identified by Terrill relates to a yawning gap in income among workers and the fact that 1% of Chinese owns 40% of the country's wealth. This is alarming, but hardly foreshadows the country's collapse when one considers the size of the economic gap in the U.S. Maps. (Apr. 2)