Chinese foreign policy: five authors in search of an interpretation

by Jonathan D. Pollack

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An assessment of five authors' works on Chinese foreign policy. During the past decade, the field of modern Chinese studies has experienced enormous growth in both the quantity and quality of scholarly effort. This intellectual expansion and maturation, however, has been far from uniform. If the books reviewed in this essay are an accurate indication of the state of knowledge in at least one area, then a profound gap exists between the analysis of Chinese foreign policy and numerous associated fields of research. With one conspicuous exception, these five volumes provide abundant testimony not so much to a field losing its way, but to its never having had a road map in the first place. While much information and intermittent insight can be gained from several of these studies, their cumulative weight and contribution are not particularly impressive.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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