Displaying new assertiveness and prominence, China under President Xi Jinping is rightly considered an emerging superpower backed by growing economic and impressive military strength. But this is only part of the story of China’s rise. As Robert G. Sutter shows in this meticulous and balanced assessment, the record of twists and turns in Chinese foreign relations since the end of the Cold War highlights a very different perspective. Domestic problems, nationalism, and security concerns continue to preoccupy Beijing, complicating China’s influence and innovations in foreign affairs. On the international front, the actions of China’s neighbors and the United States and China’s growing dependence on the world economy complicate and constrain as well as enhance China’s advance to international prominence.
Providing a comprehensive introduction to Chinese foreign relations, Sutter shows China exerting growing influence in world affairs but remaining far from dominant. Facing numerous contradictions and tradeoffs, Chinese leaders—even the self-assured Xi Jinping—avoid major confrontations with powerful competitors and eschew the costly commitments associated with regional and global leadership.