University of Helsinki
One of world's leading China specialists, David Shambaugh has published yet another major book on China. This latest, his seventh with Oxford University Press, focuses on China's approach to the world. Shambaugh's book intends to reveal the big picture of China's global approach, without theoretical jargon, to non-specialist audiences worldwide. The main conclusion is that China is as yet only a partial power, not ready to be a global power, and will never be able to rule the world. Chapter by chapter Shambaugh reveals the weaknesses of China's global approach – in diplomacy, politics, economy, culture and military security. Other than protecting narrow national interests, Chinese diplomacy, politics and military policies remain extremely passive. Sometimes China perpetuates problems through exercising its veto in the United Nations Security Council or by propping up dictatorial regimes against the will of the West – teaming up with Russia and other authoritarian regimes in what might be described as 'coalitions of the unwilling'. Shambaugh's concepts have their origins in an historical Cold War context, where countries needed to compete for allies by trying to convince the world of the appeal of their political system, culture and way of life. To some extent Shambaugh's conclusion of China as a partial power is based on the assumption that this is what China also needs to do to be a complete power. The reader might disagree, and yet, anybody interested in China's global politics is likely to learn a lot from this book, which needs to be recommended for all those interested in the development of China and the global system.