Cores, Peripheries and Peaceful Rising
In East Asia today there are three key players: the USA, Japan and China. There are significant secondary players, South Korea and Taiwan, along with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries. And there are distinctive contemporary issues including legacies of decolonization, legacies of cold war and the effects of decades of economic success upon patterns of relationships within the region and between the region and the wider global system. Most recently, there have been changes in country interactions following the end of the cold war, and most especially the rise of China. The 2008 Beijing Olympics marked the emergence of the People’s Republic of China onto the international political stage, and the rhetoric of the government revolves around the notion of peaceful rising. Most Western commentators tend to the view that the Beijing elite reads the international world in realist terms, that is, in terms of simple power relations. In contrast, writers in China often present a positive view, that is, that official declarations in respect of peaceful rising do in fact grasp the truth of these matters. These exchanges often have an ideological tinge; hence arguments on behalf of Washington confront arguments on behalf of Beijing. In contrast to both lines of commentary, in this book we have embraced an approach grounded in historical institutionalism supplemented by culture critical work, and this points to an agenda centred on the historical trajectory of the Chinese elite’s dealings with neighbours, allies and enemies.
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