Cores, Peripheries and Peaceful Rising
Post-2008 commentary upon China reveals two strands of overlapping discussion: on the one hand there is commentary in the English-language media, which seems to mix both overstated anxieties about China (numbers of population, growth rates in the economy, the size of financial reserves, rising military spending plus claims made in Beijing to great power status) with parallel over-generous admiration (both actual, in regard to the uplifting of hundreds of millions from poverty, and opportunistic, in regard to its marketplace, a target for foreign companies). And then, on the other hand, there is material available in Chinese and English which asserts the re-emergence of China as a great power, and here some of these arguments are cast in aggressive nationalist terms, often taking 1931–45 Japan and the Japanese as objects of definition, some of the arguments are cast in terms of resisting American hegemony, in particular in the western Pacific, others are cast in broad historical terms, with claims to an implicitly unbroken history of many thousands of years, whilst some are cast in softer terms with talk of peaceful rising and the re-establishment of the Silk Road, a trading network of general benefit. But neither of these internally diverse lines of commentary carry much conviction, and in place of such work, both the sceptical and the enthusiastic, this book has been concerned to uncover something of the underlying logic of Chinese politics: we have not asked whether China was about to collapse or make business men rich or take over global leadership, but, rather, how it worked; what was the animating logic of the political system in China.
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