Despite its impressive size and population, economic vitality, and drive to upgrade its military capabilities, China remains a vulnerable nation surrounded by powerful rivals and potential foes. The key to understanding China's foreign policy is to grasp these geostrategic challenges, which persist even as the country comes to dominate its neighbors. Andrew J. Nathan and Andrew Scobell analyze China's security concerns on four fronts: at home, with its immediate neighbors, in surrounding regional systems, and in the world beyond Asia. By illuminating the issues driving Chinese policy, they offer new perspective on China's rise and a strategy for balancing Chinese and American interests in Asia.

Though rooted in the present, Nathan and Scobell's study makes ample use of the past, reaching back into history to contextualize the people and institutions shaping Chinese strategy. They examine Chinese views of the United States; explain why China is so concerned about Japan; and uncover China's interests in such trouble spots as North Korea, Iran, and the Sudan. The authors probe recent troubles in Tibet and Xinjiang and establish links to forces beyond China's borders. They consider the tactics deployed by both sides of mainland China and Taiwan's complicated relationship, as Taiwan seeks to maintain autonomy while China tries to move toward unification, and they evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of China's three main power resources — economic power, military power, and soft power. The book concludes with recommendations for the United States as it seeks to manage China's rise. Chinese policymakers understand that the nation's prosperity, stability, and security depend on cooperation with the U.S, and if handled wisely, relations between the two countries could produce mutually beneficial outcomes in Asia and throughout the world.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Commercial book series. Periodically, RAND Corporation researchers publish with commercial presses. These books are not available from RAND but can be requested directly from the publisher, except in cases where the rights have reverted to RAND and we have republished a new edition.

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