x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

China's aggression will increase, book portends

In Restless Empire: China and the World Since 1750, Odd Arne Westad asserts that China will adopt a much more confrontational posture in its relations with the outside world.

Restless Empire: China and the World Since 1750
Odd Arne Westad
Bodley Head

Attempting to predict how China will use its burgeoning influence on the world stage is increasingly a preoccupation of the West, and this was most recently brought into focus by the dispute with Japan over islands both nations claim as their own.

Most of the attention has been on whether China's foreign policy will be aggressively expansionist, for which most analysts believe China's rich and convoluted history is the most useful indicator for the future. That is also the approach adopted by Odd Arne Westad, whose thesis in this comprehensive book is that a sense of grievance over perceived slights by the outside world since 1750 will lead China towards a more confrontational role in the region. He backs this theory with an exhaustive recount of interactions dating back to the Qing era, but one need onlylisten to the aggrieved tenor of China Central Television's English language service's coverage of the islands dispute with Japan to know that his analysis about what he calls the "new form of Chinese nationalism" rings true.

* John Henzell