Since no other country can claim a more powerful link to its ancient past and
classical principles, any attempt to understand China's future world role must
begin with an appreciation of its long history. For centuries, China rarely
encountered other societies of comparable size and sophistication; it was the
"Middle Kingdom," treating the peoples on its periphery as vassal states.
At the same time, Chinese statesmen-facing threats of invasion from without,
and the contests of competing factions within-developed a canon of strategic
thought that prized the virtues of subtlety, patience, and indirection over
feats of martial prowess.
In On China, Kissinger examines key episodes in Chinese foreign policy from
the classical era to the present day, with a particular emphasis on the decades
since the rise of Mao Zedong. He illuminates the inner workings of Chinese
diplomacy during such pivotal events as the initial encounters between China and
modern European powers, the formation and breakdown of the Sino-Soviet alliance,
the Korean War, Richard Nixon's historic trip to Beijing, and three crises in
the Taiwan Straits. Drawing on his extensive personal experience with four
generation of Chinese leaders, he brings to life towering figures such as Mao,
Zhou Enlai, and Deng Xiaoping, revealing how their different visions have
shaped China's modern destiny.
With his singular vantage on U.S.-China relations, Kissinger traces the
evolution of this fraught but crucial relationship over the past 60 years,
following its dramatic course from estrangement to strategic partnership to
economic interdependence, and toward an uncertain future. With a final chapter
on the emerging superpower's 21st-century world role, On China provides an
intimate historical perspective on Chinese foreign affairs from one of the
premier statesmen of the 20th century.
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