Most global citizens are well aware of the explosive growth of the Chinese economy. Indeed, China has famously become the "workshop of the world." Yet, while China watchers have shed much light on the country's internal dynamics--China's politics, its vast social changes, and its economic development--few have focused on how this increasingly powerful nation has become more active and assertive throughout the world.
In China Goes Global, eminent China scholar David Shambaugh delivers the book that many have been waiting for--a sweeping account of China's growing prominence on the international stage. Thirty years ago, China's role in global affairs beyond its immediate East Asian periphery was decidedly minor and it had little geostrategic power. Today however, China's expanding economic power has allowed it to extend its reach virtually everywhere--from mineral mines in Africa, to currency markets in the West, to oilfields in the Middle East, to agribusiness in Latin America, to the factories of East Asia. Shambaugh offers an enlightening look into the manifestations of China's global presence: its extensive commercial footprint, its growing military power, its increasing cultural influence or "soft power," its diplomatic activity, and its new prominence in global governance institutions.
But Shambaugh is no alarmist. In this balanced and well-researched volume, he argues that China's global presence is more broad than deep and that China still lacks the influence befitting a major world power--what he terms a "partial power." He draws on his decades of China-watching and his deep knowledge of the subject, and exploits a wide variety of previously untapped sources, to shed valuable light on China's current and future roles in world affairs.
A "dissatisfied and angry power" that is "not ready for global leadership" is the verdict from this measured, deflating assessment of China's global presence. Shambaugh (Charting China's Future), a George Washington University political scientist, tags the Middle Kingdom with a risk-averse, irresponsible, narrowly self-interested foreign policy that sows mistrust and leaves it with no allies, a modernizing but still weak military, a maladroit public relations effort marred by stilted government sloganeering, and a gaping deficit of soft power in a world that rejects its parochial culture and authoritarian governance. The result, he argues, is that China "punches way below its weight in international diplomacy" despite its swelling economic might that has upended world energy and commodity markets. The author writes a lucid, highly readable overview of China's government policy-making apparatus, media, military ambitions and capabilities, trade and investment patterns, and strained relations with almost every region of the world; he's especially thorough in untangling competing strands of bellicose nativism and liberal internationalism among Chinese international affairs theorists. Drawing on interviews with Chinese policymakers and his own perceptive observations of their conflicting impulses, Shambaugh pointedly corrects the usual hysterical exaggerations of Chinese power. His is an illuminating profile of a colossus that does not yet bestride the world.