- Reviewed by
Donald Gross, in his book The China Fallacy: How the U.S. Can Benefit from China’s Rise and Avoid Another Cold War, puts forth a formula concerning what he sees as the United States’ crucial strategic choice for the Asia-Pacific. Although the flow of the chapters is not ideal, the author is very clear in his desire to debunk the fallacy that the United States and China must inevitably go to war or that China’s rise is occurring at the expense of the United States. The short version of his tale is that a second cold war is neither necessary nor desirable. The author relies on his background in the U.S. government to argue that a cold war between the United States and China is not in American national interest whether one looks at the security or the economic aspects. He is critical of the China hawks, who, he believes, have formed and misinformed American policy toward China over the past decade and prevented more optimal relations that could lead to far greater benefits for the American people.
This is not fanciful thinking from some idealistic young professor. This is the pragmatic view of a former State Department official, former counselor of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and former director of legislative affairs at the National Security Council of the White House. Not only does Donald Gross use the sensible language of a seasoned diplomat and official, but also he relies on an extensive use of quotations from the world’s most noted experts in the field. This book advocates the use of American superior diplomatic, economic, and security power to seek a stable peace with China through a different paradigm.
The book focuses on security and economic implications and advocates a foreign policy solution. The first two chapters following the introduction focus on the security implications of this hawkish policy, something clearly of great concern to the author. Donald Gross reiterates that the United States has abandoned its century-old policy goal of preventing any foreign power from exercising regional dominance in the Asia-Pacific for a new policy of maintaining American dominance for the indefinite future. Arguing against the hawks that insist all rising powers spark major wars due to disruption of the international order, Gross insists—and cites important international relations theorists in support—that China is striving to rise within the existing U.S.-led international system and, therefore, war is not inevitable. Nonetheless, the author fears that war has become more likely by the hedging strategy adopted in the George W. Bush administration and accelerated during the Obama administration, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced as a “strategic pivot” toward Asia.1 For instance, “hedging” means conducting close reconnaissance and surveillance of China and strengthening American military presence in the Asia-Pacific as well as strengthening security [End Page 602] ties with Japan and India largely to contain China. The author appears to find these activities unnecessarily confrontational, given the vast American military superiority over China. Gross mentions some negative instances that have arisen as a result of these policies, which include everything from minor confrontations to a buildup of drones. Moreover, miscalculating and exaggerating Chinese power, of everything from weapons technology to cyberattacks, feed mutual mistrust between the two countries and fuel a cold war-like cycle. The author ties these issues into the economic issues when he questions “how the United States can overcome its domestic difficulties, prosper economical and exert leadership in a world that is being transformed by the rise of emerging market countries” (p. 45).
The next chapter focuses on China’s economy. The author clearly states that it is essential for the United States to exert leadership in Asia by promoting greater trade and investment and by preventing any other group of countries from creating an exclusive trading area that excludes Americans. Nonetheless, he is adamant...