Howard French

China is inching up as a world power, and author Howard French of Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power  finds it about time to dive deeping into what moves the country’s political thinking, says the Irish Times in a review. French: ” “China will wish to restore itself to the pinnacle of affairs in East Asia.”

The Irish Times:

Digging deep into history, French shows how China’s belief in its authority over tian xia or “everything under the heavens” informs its territorial ambitions in the South China Sea, which have brought it into conflict with nearly all of its neighbours, many of whom have historically been tribute states to dynastic China.

To understand China’s foreign policy, it is necessary to understand how deeply feelings of “inside” and “outside” run in the political thinking of successive dynasties and governments.

Hard times for China have always followed periods of “inside disorder and outside calamity” and French combines wide scholarship with the instinct of a dogged reporter to show how the current government under Xi Jinping is set on ensuring this doesn’t happen again.

Beefing up its military prowess in the past years, the question is what will China do with its new powers? At the very least, French argues, “China will wish to restore itself to the pinnacle of affairs in East Asia.”

China has built islands and military aircraft ready on remote reefs to back its claims to most of the South China Sea, through which one-third of the world’s maritime trade passes every year. Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei each have competing claims with China.

More in the Irish Times.

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