In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews 593 Quansheng Zhao. Interpreting Chinese Foreign Policy: The Micro-Macro LinkageApproach. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1996. xvii, 281 pp. Hardcover $65.00, isbn 0-19-587429-3. Paperback $19.95, ISBN 0-19-587430-7. There are numerous ways, and there have been many attempts, to interpret Chinese foreign policy. Professor Quansheng Zhao's book represents one ofthe most successful attempts in recent times. He sets out to achieve two goals: to give a comprehensive overview of the study of Chinese foreign policy and to demonstrate the fruitfulness of using a micro-macro approach to that study (p. 3). On both counts, he has succeeded admirably. The overview, laid out in the introductory chapter, is informative and useful to students and teachers alike. The last (eighth) chapter includes a rather innovative section on areas for further research, which will be of interest to aspiring postgraduate students of Chinese foreign policy. The academic value of the book lies in the second goal, that is, to show the usefulness of a micro-macro approach. By macro Zhao means the international environment that China faces and the institutional structure through which foreign -policy decisions are made. By micro he means the decision makers, individually or in small groups. Zhao is not satisfied with the debate over the international versus the domestic conditions of Chinese foreign policy. He wants to go beyond this kind of two-dimensional study to analyze the interactions between the international environment, the institutional structure, and decision makers, and to see how these interactions lead to foreign-policy behavior. This approach is not particularly new; it draws on a good amount ofprevious research. What is new, however, is Zhao's persistence in pursuing this line of analysis. He employs single-handedly a wide range ofsource materials to go deeper and broader than anyone has done so far. In this respect his contribution to scholarship stands out. Zhao devotes one chapter each (chapters 3 to 5) to the three factors ofinteraction : international environment, institutional structure, and decision makers. He calls them the symbolic macrostructure, the institutional macrostructure, and the power/regime macrostructure. By macrostructure, Zhao means the "basic social reality" (p. 39). Institutional macrostructure "refers to the practical social reality , the level at which foreign policy is made and implemented" (p. 78). By power/regime, he means two concepts, "power politics" and "regime legitimacy" (p. 115). Although Zhao has quoted some definitions given by others, his use of the word "symbolic" is somewhat ambiguous. Most ofthe time he refers to theĀ© 1997 by University perception ofthe international environment by decision makers, but sometimes ofHawai'i Pressne means China's policy shift from revolution to modernization, and sometimes he alludes to the substantive changes in international and domestic politics. 594 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall 1997 Of these three chapters, the most useful is the one on institutional macrostructure , and die most revealing is the one on power/regime macrostructure. How the Chinese make important foreign-policy decisions is a fascinating yet difficult subject. It is difficult because ofthe shroud of secrecy and the lack of documented material for analysis. Depending on the type ofpolicy, different ministries and agencies may be involved. Apart from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is the main executive organ in foreign policy issues, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation (renamed from the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade, a title still used on page 90) will be heavily involved in trade issues while the People's Liberation Army will be heavily involved in the sale ofweapons. Zhao has pointed out tiiat the International Liaison Department is in charge of the Chinese Communist Party's international activities, and the National People's Congress has a foreign affairs committee (p. 87). This is an interesting and important observation and it would have been useful ifthe author had elaborated further on the functions and activities of these agencies and their relations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other ministries. In terms of the institutional macrostructure, Zhao suggests that it has changed from the vertical authoritarianism of Mao's day to the horizontal authoritarianism ofDeng. Although he reminds readers that the...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 593-595
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.