Reading 1.6 - China Goes Global: The Partial Power (David Shambaugh)

In what is possibly the most accessible and applicable reading for this first block of study, David Shambaugh achieves an uncommon synthesis of thought regarding China. The subtitle gives away his thesis: China is a rapidly rising power but her power is hollow. While a growing global actor, China still exercises little influence on the international stage. Shambaugh manages to capture historic trends in Chinese relations while staying out of the diplomatic weeds. His treatment of the variety of perspectives within China’s elite and academic circles (pg. 27–43) helps to erode the belief in a single Chinese view of the world (hyper-realist nationalism). Additionally, Shambaugh’s summaries of China’s relations with regional and global powers proves very useful (especially those with Russia: pg. 78–86).

If he’s right, policy hawks should use caution when advocating for aggressive actions that might goad a cornered paper tiger (albeit a very study construction paper tiger) to lash out in deterrence. A middle road of informed engagement combined with military preparation (in case of missteps that lead to conflict) might be warranted.