CDT Bookshelf: Edward Friedman recommends “China’s Peaceful Rise: Speeches of Zheng Bijian 1997-2005”

For the CDT Bookshelf, China Digital Times invites experts on China to recommend a book to CDT readers. This month, Edward Friedman, a professor in the Political Science department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, recommends China’s Peaceful Rise: Speeches of Zheng Bijian 1997-2005 Brookings Institution Press, 2005. Friedman writes:

This is a collection of talks by the promoter of the notion of China’s . Zheng Bijian pushed this theme in the wake of surging self-confidence in China caused by escaping the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997-98. Zheng opposed romanticizers of Mao and opponents of continuing economic openness. The point was that China could win the game of globalization but would lose if it took the military path of Germany, Japan and Russia. People calling for armed action against Taiwan, Japan, America etc. had to be defeated.

Yet by 2004 it was Zheng who was defeated. He had to empty the notion of peaceful rise of its core content. He had to backtrack and say that war against Taiwan would not negate the notion of China’s peaceful rise. Indeed, given China’s energy needs and the leadership consensus on claims to the East China Sea and the South China Sea and to their energy resources, a willingness to resort to military action had to be defended as a sovereign right. Such concessions left the theory of peaceful rise empty. Reading these talks in chronological order, rather than how they are organized in the volume, reveals the power of the passion in elite circles for China to rise, but peacefully or otherwise.

See also:

A full review of the book by Friedman in The China Review.

– A preview of ’s article “China’s ‘Peaceful Rise’ to Great-Power Status” from Foreign Affairs, September/October 2005.

– The Wikipedia entry on China’s peaceful rise.

– “China Debates Its ‘Peaceful Rise’ Strategy” from Yale Global Online.

– The web site of China Reform Forum, the think tank that Zheng Bijian chairs

A list of books by Edward Friedman

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