On China

( 29 )

Overview

"Fascinating, shrewd . . . The book deftly traces the rhythms and patterns of Chinese history." —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

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. On China illuminates the inner workings of Chinese diplomacy during such pivotal events as the initial encounters between China and tight line ...

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Overview

"Fascinating, shrewd . . . The book deftly traces the rhythms and patterns of Chinese history." —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

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. On China illuminates the inner workings of Chinese diplomacy during such pivotal events as the initial encounters between China and tight line modern European powers, the formation and breakdown of the Sino-Soviet alliance, the Korean War, and Richard Nixon’s historic trip to Beijing. With a new final chapter on the emerging superpower’s twenty-first-century role in global politics and economics, On China provides historical perspective on Chinese foreign affairs from one of the premier statesmen of our time.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this canny, engaging historical study, the ex-secretary of state examines China's foreign policy for insights into its statecraft and soul. Kissinger (Crisis) recaps China's geo-strategic wei qi match—his ubiquitous metaphor for the subtle positioning characteristic of the national board game—from the Korean War to today's trade disputes, emphasizing the relationship with the U.S. as it moved from bitter enmity to cordial interdependence. He grounds his narrative in a penetrating analysis of age-old features of Chinese policy, emphasizing the Middle Kingdom's hauteur, wariness of encirclement—to the Chinese, he argues, America is just another barbarian horde to manipulate—and dread of domestic disorder. As an architect of Nixon's opening to China and a freelance go-between for later administrations, Kissinger is a major figure in the story, and the text often revolves around exegeses of his cryptic dialogues with Chinese leaders. The book therefore oozes Kissingerian realism, with its stress on great power machinations, international balance, and high-stakes summitry and its impatience with human rights strictures; a deadpan wit and cold-blooded candor flash out from clouds of diplomatic euphemism. Though it sometimes feels like a mind game between mandarins of many stripes, and Kissinger's generalizations about Chinese national character can also sound outmoded, this insider's account sheds a revealing light on the contours of Chinese-American relations. (May)
Kirkus Reviews

From the eminent elder statesman, an astute appraisal on Chinese diplomacy from ancient times to thefraught present "strategic trust" with the United States.

Former Secretary of State Kissinger (Crisis : The Anatomy of Two Major Foreign Policy Crises: Based on the Record of Henry Kissinger's Hitherto Secret Telephone Conversations, 2003, etc.) brings his considerable scholarly knowledge and professional expertise to this chronicle of the complicated evolution and precarious future of Chinese diplomacy with the West. Traditionally, Chinese foreign policy as practiced by centuries of emperors was marked by appeasement and generally overwhelming their barbarian enemies with Chinese largesse: the "five baits" included clothing, music, slaves and food to "corrupt" the opponent into seeing things the Chinese way. In their supreme self-containment, the Chinese disdained the importunate advances of the barbarians until the aggressive incursions by the West to force open the barriers to trade in the late 18th century. Foreign threats by the West, Russia and Japan and the series of "unequal treaties" imposed on China impelled it into a period of "self-strengthening" that was finally achieved by the Communist consolidation of power under Mao. From Mao's declaration in 1949 that the Chinese people "have stood up," the Chinese practiced a modern form of pursuing the "psychological advantage," rather than the military (shades of Sun Tzu), in confronting the superpowers. However, a new era commenced under Deng Xiaoping, who was bent on reform and open to travel and new ideas, and normalization of relations with America was finally established under President Carter. Kissinger wisely considers Tiananmen, Taiwan, the elevation of Jiang Zemin and the new era of "cooperative coexistence" maintained by President Hu Jintao. The author warns, however, that despite China's commitment to a "peaceful rise," the U.S.-China relationship will continue to contain an underlying tension.

Sage words and critical perspective lent by a significant participant in historical events.

Brantly Womack
On China is former secretary of state Henry Kissinger's attempt to explain Chinese diplomacy to an American audience, to review the course of U.S.-China relations, and briefly but incisively to address the challenge of sustaining a mutually beneficial interaction. It adds an honorable two inches to the diplomat's already broad shelf of works.
—The Washington Post
Michiko Kakutani
Mr. Kissinger's fascinating, shrewd and sometimes perverse new book, On China, not only addresses the central role he played in Nixon's opening to China but also tries to show how the history of China, both ancient and more recent, has shaped its foreign policy and attitudes toward the West. While this volume is indebted to the pioneering scholarship of historians like Jonathan D. Spence, its portrait of China is informed by Mr. Kissinger's intimate firsthand knowledge of several generations of Chinese leaders.
—The New York Times
Library Journal
Originally scheduled for November 2010 and featured in Prepub Exploded of June 3, this study of China past, present, and future—especially in terms of Kissinger himself—has been bumped to May 2011. An aggressive media campaign is promised.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594202711
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/17/2011
  • Pages: 608
  • Sales rank: 337,735
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

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 the chairman of Kissinger Associates, Inc., an international consulting firm.

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Table of Contents

Preface xv

Note on Chinese Spellings xix

Prologue 1

Chapter 1 The Singularity of China 5

The Era of Chinese Preeminence 8

Confucianism 13

Concepts of International Relations: Impartiality or Equality? 16

Chinese Realpolitik and Sun Tzu's Art of War 22

Chapter 2 The Kowtow Question and the Opium War 33

The Macartney Mission 35

The Clash of Two World Orders: The Opium War 45

Qiying's Diplomacy: Soothing the Barbarians 51

Chapter 3 From Preeminence to Decline 57

Wei Yuan's Blueprint: "Using Barbarians Against Barbarians," Learning Their Techniques 60

The Erosion of Authority: Domestic Upheavals and the Challenge of Foreign Encroachments 64

Managing Decline 69

The Challenge of Japan 77

Korea 80

The Boxer Uprising and the New Era of Warring States 86

Chapter 4 Mao's Continuous Revolution 91

Mao and the Great Harmony 92

Mao and International Relations: The Empty City Stratagem, Chinese Deterrence, and the Quest for Psychological Advantage 97

The Continuous Revolution and the Chinese People 106

Chapter 5 Triangular Diplomacy and the Korean War 113

Acheson and the Lure of Chinese Titoism 118

Kim Il-sung and the Outbreak of War 122

American Intervention: Resisting Aggression 129

Chinese Reactions: Another Approach to Deterrence 133

Sino-American Confrontation 143

Chapter 6 China Confronts Both Superpowers 148

The First Taiwan Strait Crisis 151

Diplomatic Interlude with the United States 158

Mao, Khrushchev, and the Sino-Soviet Split 161

The Second Taiwan Strait Crisis 172

Chapter 7 A Decade of Crises 181

The Great Leap Forward 181

The Himalayan Border Dispute and the 1962 Sino-Indian War 184

The Cultural Revolution 192

Was There a Lost Opportunity? 197

Chapter 8 The Road to Reconciliation 202

The Chinese Strategy 203

The American Strategy 213

First Steps-Clashes at the Ussuri River 215

Chapter 9 Resumption of Relations: First Encounters with Mao and Zhou 236

Zhou Enlai 241

Nixon in China: The Meeting with Mao 255

The Nixon-Zhou Dialogue 262

The Shanghai Communiqué 267

The Aftermath 273

Chapter 10 The Quasi-Alliance: Conversations with Mao 275

The "Horizontal Line": Chinese Approaches to Containment 277

The Impact of Watergate 292

Chapter 11 The End of the Mao Era 294

The Succession Crisis 294

The Fall of Zhou Enlai 297

Final Meetings with Mao: The Swallows and the Coming of the Storm 303

Chapter 12 The Indestructible Deng 321

Deng's First Return to Power 322

The Death of Leaders-Hua Guofeng 327

Deng's Ascendance-"Reform and Opening Up" 329

Chapter 13 "Touching the Tiger's Buttocks": The Third Vietnam War 340

Vietnam: Confounder of Great Powers 341

Deng's Foreign Policy-Dialogue with America and Normalization 348

Deng's Journeys 356

Deng's Visit to America and the New Definition of Alliance 360

The Third Vietnam War 367

Chapter 14 Reagan and the Advent of Normalcy 377

Taiwan Arms Sales and the Third Communiqué 381

China and the Superpowers-The New Equilibrium 387

Deng's Reform Program 396

Chapter 15 Tiananmen 405

American Dilemmas 411

The Fang Lizhi Controversy 428

The 12- and 24-Character Statements 437

Chapter 16 What Kind of Reform? Deng's Southern Tour 440

Chapter 17 A Roller Coaster Ride Toward Another Reconciliation: The Jiang Zemin Era 447

China and the Disintegrating Soviet Union 456

The Clinton Administration and China Policy 461

The Third Taiwan Strait Crisis 471

China's Resurgence and Jiang's Reflections 478

Chapter 18 The New Millennium 487

Differences in Perspective 493

How to Define Strategic Opportunity 497

The National Destiny Debate-The Triumphalist View 503

Dai Bingguo-A Reaffirmation of Peaceful Rise 508

Epilogue: Does History Repeat Itself? The Crowe Memorandum 514

Toward a Pacific Community? 527

Afterword to the paperback edition 531

Notes 549

Index 585

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 29 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(14)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 3, 2011

    For those who wish to relate with China for mutual benefit

    Dr Kissenger's tour de force, On China, serves well to those looking to relate with the awakening giant. Hopefully world leaders and businessmen take heed for mutual benefit, world peace and prosperity. It's a book well worth investing time in study and reflection. It shows the way forward!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 22, 2011

    Not So Good

    Dr Kissinger has become a victim of his own policies. His unstiniting apology for China was once helpful, in that he correctly presented China as a country with whom we could negotiate...even as he ignored the butchery and deprivation of rights. OK, Mr Kissinger, so we can negotiate with them. Thank you for that. The interest in China which you helped generate, however, has led most thinking Americans to a more nuanced view. China can be seen and all which can be seen is not praiseworthy. We perceive a China disabled by history and its incredibly dysfunctional language, using internet and media control to reimpose the very isolation you and Nixon went to China to abolish. Read the book if you want to gloss over Mainland China's horrors. Otherwise, skip it.

    4 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 22, 2011

    Kissinger's Ignorance about China

    China is a complicated large country with a long history and civilization entirely different from Western ones. Chinese leaders are usually profoundly shrewd and avoid being seen through by others. The top leading group is a black box. Its operation is tightly kept confidential. However, for an autocracy like China, one cannot understand it without understanding its leaders. No wonder China watchers are frustrated in understanding China.


    However, as a well-experienced and informed diplomat and politician who helped Nixon achieve rapprochement with China, Kissinger must be in a better position to see through Chinese leaders, since he has met various Chinese leaders many times. I, therefore, read through his book On China, but am greatly disappointed that Kissinger gives distorted images of and misinformation about China and Chinese leaders, especially Chinese madman Mao.


    Having personally experienced Mao's tyranny, my greatest worry concerning China is the potential emergence of another madman like Mao when China grows into a rival to America. The disaster that he may cause to Chinese and world people will be much more serious than Mao's great famine and Cultural Revolution.


    Kissinger, however, compared China's rise now with that of Germany before World War I and believes if the state leaders then had known the consequence of the war, they would "have recoiled" from confrontation. So will China and America in the future, he concludes. Kissinger forgets World War II, which is much more relevant. Madmen Hitler and Tojo Hideki started the war because they were callous killers and their mad calculation made them believe they would win the war. Tojo was especially mad. He attacked America when compared with the giant of US economy, Japan's was a dwarf.


    Due to limited space I will only list a few of Mao's evils:


    Like Hitler, Mao Was a Callous Killer.


    In a speech on August 10, 1959, Mao gave the reasons why there was no Hungarian Rebellion (referring to the Hungarian Revolution in 1956) in China, saying that since the communist takeover "more than one million counterrevolutionaries have been killed. Hungary has not killed any counterrevolutionary. For the elimination of more than one million of the 600-odd million people, I think we shall shout hurrah for that." The counterrevolutionaries referred to in his speech were mostly unarmed civilians put to death in peacetime. The terror lies in his pride and joy in the killing.

    Mao's Fits of Madness:


    1. Mao's mad campaign the Great Leap Forward giving rise to a death toll of 20 to 40 million people is now well-known the world over.


    2. Mao's second fit of domestic madness the Cultural Revolution is even more notorious. There were no statistics of the death toll and the number of victims. People who personally experienced it like me know that the number was enormous.


    3. Mao told Soviet leader Khrushchev that he would fight a nuclear war to eliminate capitalism all over the world even if half of Chinese population (300 million then) died in the war.

    4. Mao brought the world to the verge of nuclear war twice by his two Taiwan crises.

    As Maoism remains popular in China, there is possibility of the emergence of another madman like Mao when China grows into a superpower equal in strength to America. I hope people will not be mislead by Kissinger and thus fail to be on their alert.

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 13, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I must confess that prior to reading On China, I knew little abo

    I must confess that prior to reading On China, I knew little about the country other than popular culture stereotypes and a smattering of history. This has now changed and I feel more secure in my knowledge of China and the reasons they act illogically and irrational at times.

    I do not believe that there is another country on the face of the earth where the totality of history must be so strongly considered when constructing diplomatic strategy. Kissinger provides this in-depth history and analysis that provides us a scaffold. In the past, too often we have stumbled around in the dark trying to keep one step ahead of their mindset. And too often, our Congress and leadership has presented simplistic and naïve solutions to the China problem without consideration of this deep history.

    Throughout the book Kissinger expounds on the Chinese canon of strategic thought that includes subtlety, indirection and patience over sword rattling. The modern western world must understand these strategies to the nth degree or we will once again become vassal states of the “Middle Kingdom”. Kissinger has provided this well written book as a guide and offers wise advice for the future. It greatly concerns me that we will not take it.

    I hope you find this review / opinion helpful.

    Michael L. Gooch, Author of Wingtips with Spurs.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 21, 2011

    Highly recommend for any business working in and with China

    found this perspective of the history of China's growth as a super power competitor and (often) partner with the US very useful. This is not what you will read in the main stream media, and newly minted history books designed to "change our history." Not so when history participants candidly share their experiences.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 3, 2011

    Most Excellent

    You simply must read this book.

    Kissinger knows China first hand.

    There are so many books not to read, this is not one of those.

    Other books on China you must read include those written by YALE's Sterling Historian Jonathan Spence's highly acclaimed definitive book:

    In Search of Modern China

    Here is a webpage with excerpts from both:
    http : // goo . gl / eSIF
    please remove spaces from link

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 9, 2011

    Excellent read

    A review of history IN DETAIL. Excellent read.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2013

    ¿On China¿ provides a historical foundation and development of C

    “On China” provides a historical foundation and development of Chinese geopolitical relations from the perspective of Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State and diplomacy expert for more than 40 years. Kissinger explains the way the Chinese think about problems of peace and war, international order and the also the relationship with American strategy, diplomacy and economics. The book is either intentional in its presentation to avoid confrontation in the spirit of diplomacy, avoids disclosing too many details to preserve Kissinger’s role as a consultant or cleverly presents the stories in ways to illustrate concepts to frame culture and strategy using a Chinese mindset. Readers looking for critical assessments of China’s approach will be disappointed. Those celebrating China’s success will be left wanting. Historians and students of diplomacy, strategy and culture are likely to be fascinated with the subtleties of actions, reactions or their absence of conclusions. The face-saving approach to this book is exemplified by cold factual conversation, references to communication and lack of deep critical reflection by Kissinger. However, facts are laid out in such a way to inspire the imagination of readers to ask “what if?” or to feed intuitive readers a means to see how events and reactions relate.


    “On China” presents a cultural perspective which is not commonly available from filtered or standard academic texts. Much of the dialog and evidence is first hand. It provides a unique insight and assessment of overlapping regimes, sensitivities, personalities and influential leaders who have shaped the relationships and international diplomacy. Multicultural business relationships require time to develop. Different goals and values between people and government agencies create unique interpretations of the same information. Understanding history which has shaped the behaviors of a country such as China and be applied to many other situations where clarity is sought from ambiguity. As a result, you need to think and observe from many diverse and opposing views and policies to create the best opportunity. Henry Kissinger does not judge or prescribe detailed solutions, but introduces the reader to strategy with Chinese characteristics. In the movie “Princess Bride”, character Vizzini describes one of the classic blunders in world history to avoid is “Never get involved in a land war in Asia.” “On China” makes a case that the biggest failure is to not understand China.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2012

    Good book

    Had cool stuff

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 13, 2014

    This was an exceptional book, from a great mind who understands

    This was an exceptional book, from a great mind who understands the world, people who live all over it and how their cultures form their actions, interactions as well as responses to others actions.

    Some may find it shocking, but there is a big, mean, cruel world out there and to hear what happens, what others countries think of the USA is alarming, but true. Thanks Dr. Kissenger, a great piece of work, as always!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2013

    Insightful

    This book deals with the high level interactions between Chinese leaders and leaders of other countries primarily since 1949. The foundations of the book are Mr Kissinger's personal contacts and discussions with Chinese leaders over the past four decades, thence it focuses on US - Chinese relations.

    You will learn how the Chinese leaders interpret the words and actions of other nations, what they think about their own country and develop an understanding of the world from the point of view of the Chinese leaders. You will read about the Chinese fears as related to the US and even the USSR.

    You will not find much information on the Chinese civil war, the rise of Mao or the suffering endured by the Chinese masses under Mao. If you are looking for this type of history, look elsewhere. The author does not deal with the details of these issues. What he does do is to accept these realities with minimal distractions. On the international level you deal with those in power. And this book deals with the Chinese on that level.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2013

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2013

    I will be your mate

    My name is glimmer.i am a white furred she cat with blue eyes and want to be your mate if you join dolphinclan at great result 1.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2012

    I would like to read it on my nook

    Because of your disregard of the FTA agreement signed by the US with Australia you deny me the right to purchase books to read on the Nook that I purchased It only gets one star coz you won't sell it to med

    John Boulton

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A sweeping, authoritative, insightful history of China from Henry Kissinger

    In his formidable 500-page-plus book, equally formidable scholar-diplomat Henry Kissinger writes about the nation with which he is inextricably linked: China. Kissinger infuses his text with impressive personal recollections based on more than 50 visits to China over 40 years, working either officially as national security adviser and secretary of state, or unofficially as a foreign policy expert. In that time, he has seen China's evolution through four generations of its leaders. His insights on foreign policy and his personal rapport with top officials enable him to embellish this diplomatic history with extraordinary detail and discernment. getAbstract highly recommends the book's vast scope to anyone seriously interested in examining China's current and future role in world politics and economics, and that should be just about everyone.

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    Posted August 16, 2011

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