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  • New Directions in the Study of China's Foreign Policy
  • Elizabeth Wishnick (bio)
Alastair Iain Johnston and Robert S. Ross, editors. New Directions in the Study of China's Foreign Policy. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006. xvi, 482 pp. Paperback $24.95, ISBN 0-8047-5363-6. Hardcover $65.00, ISBN 0-8047-5362-8.

This volume originated from a December 2002 conference at Harvard University honoring the important contribution Allen Whiting has made to the study of Chinese foreign policy, and the volume succeeds admirably at this primary task. Many of the chapters revisit the wide-ranging areas of Whiting's research-China's signaling behavior during the Korean War (Robert S. Ross, Thomas J. Christensen, and Avery Goldstein), deterrence and the 1962 Sino-Indian border war (John W. Garver), the role of perceptions in Sino-Japanese relations (Michael Yahuda), and Chinese nationalism (Peter Hays Gries). Although some of the [End Page 423] authors refer more explicitly to Allen Whiting's work than others, the volume attests to the great impact and enduring relevance his research has had on scholarship and public policy. Despite its title, New Directions in the Study of China's Foreign Policy, the book tends to highlight the continuities in the study of Chinese foreign policy across generations of scholars.

A second task of the volume is to anchor research on Chinese foreign policy more securely in international relations theory, following the lead of earlier works, such as International Relations Theory and the Asia-Pacific, edited by G. John Ikenberry and Michael Mastanduno (Columbia University Press, 2003), and Rethinking Security in East Asia, edited by J. J. Suh, Peter J. Katzenstein, and Allen Carlson (Stanford University Press, 2004). The authors of New Directions, more so than those of these earlier volumes, amply demonstrate that rigor and richness are mutually reinforcing in the study of Chinese foreign policy. Their theoretically informed chapters are based on extensive use of Chinese sources, interviews, and fieldwork, and those authors who test theory most explicitly (e.g., Peter Hays Gries, "Identity and Conflict in Sino-American Relations," and Alastair Iain Johnston, "The Correlates of Beijing Public Opinion Toward the United States, 1998-2004") could not have done so as profitably without a profound knowledge of China and Chinese language ability.

The chapters are divided into three sections (Security Studies, China and Globalization, and Domestic Politics) corresponding to the three main schools of international relations theory: realism, liberalism, and constructivism. As in Rethinking Security in East Asia, most of the authors in New Directions seek "analytical eclecticism" within the boundaries of these three theoretical schools by reexamining theoretical debates from a different angle, taking advantage of newly available Chinese sources to revisit hypotheses, or finding a new twist on longstanding policy issues of interest.

As in many conference volumes, the chapters in New Directions were written independently of one another and do not address each other directly. Nonetheless, the first two chapters provide contending views of the stability of deterrence in Asia. Although their chapters differ in their historical focus and selection of cases, Robert Ross ("Deterrence and the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan") and Thomas Christensen ("Trend Analysis and China's Use of Force") square off over the likelihood of conflict in the Taiwan Straits. Ross, basing his analysis on Thomas Schelling's concept of crisis escalation, downplays the likelihood of confrontation between the United States and China over Taiwan due to the presence of stable mutual deterrence. Conversely, Christensen argues, using concepts from studies of preemptive and preventive war, that deterrence might not be that easily maintained because China may take advantage of a window of opportunity or a vulnerability to change the status quo.

Although there is no overall theme binding the chapters together, a number of them implicitly raise similar questions (though from different theoretical perspectives) [End Page 424] about the consequences of China's growing integration with the international community.

Typically, analysts have focused on whether or not China's foreign policy behavior is becoming more moderate and consistent with global norms as it becomes more enmeshed with the global economy. In New Directions, several of the contributors address this question from new vantage...


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