In this sweeping and insightful history, Henry Kissinger turns for the first time at book-length to a country he has known intimately for decades, and whose modern relations with the West he helped shape. Drawing on historical records as well as his conversations with Chinese leaders over the past forty years, Kissinger examines how China has approached diplomacy, strategy, and negotiation throughout its history, and reflects on the consequences for the global balance of power in the 21st century.
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.
On China by Henry Kissinger gives the former diplomat’s views on relations between China and western countries, views that command attention given his lifelong experiences working in foreign policy and diplomacy. In this work, Kissinger sheds light on his work spanning decades of regime changes in China and changes in the geopolitical landscape over this same period. He offers his account of interactions with the numerous Chinese leaders over his years of service, at times offering his own personal characterizations of these foreign leaders, giving one the sense of knowing a little bit more of what it must have been like to work with some of the most powerful political figures in the world. Kissinger’s message is clear to readers of what he believes to be the future for progress in Sino-American relations. Through his decades of diplomatic communications, observations, and reflections on the history of these relations, he sees the path forward to be one of conciliation, meeting of the powers at a position that preserves the sovereignty of the Chinese nation while moving the people out of poverty and away from internal tensions. I recommend On China to anyone interested in US foreign relations.
Henry Kissinger served as National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, and has advised many other American presidents on foreign policy. He received the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Medal of Liberty, among other awards. He is the author of numerous books and articles on foreign policy and diplomacy, and is currently chairman of Kissinger Associates, Inc., an international consulting firm.
For more reviews of the book, please follow the book tour.
I received a copy of On China by Henry Kissinger from TLC Book Tours to be a part of this tour and offer my honest review of the book. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.