Harmony and War: Confucian Culture and Chinese Power Politics

Harmony and War: Confucian Culture and Chinese Power Politics

Hardback Contemporary Asia in the World

By (author) Yuan-Kang Wang

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  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 328 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 231mm x 36mm | 567g
  • Publication date: 1 January 2011
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0231151403
  • ISBN 13: 9780231151405
  • Illustrations note: 6 maps, 4 line drawings, 14 tables
  • Sales rank: 1,107,939

Product description

Confucianism has shaped a certain perception of Chinese security strategy, symbolized by the defensive, nonaggressive Great Wall. Many believe China is antimilitary and reluctant to use force against its enemies. It practices pacifism and refrains from expanding its boundaries, even when nationally strong. In a path-breaking study traversing six centuries of Chinese history, Yuan-kang Wang resoundingly discredits this notion, recasting China as a practitioner of realpolitik and a ruthless purveyor of expansive grand strategies. Leaders of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) prized military force and shrewdly assessed the capabilities of China's adversaries. They adopted defensive strategies when their country was weak and pursued expansive goals, such as territorial acquisition, enemy destruction, and total military victory, when their country was strong. Despite the dominance of an antimilitarist Confucian culture, warfare was not uncommon in the bulk of Chinese history. Grounding his research in primary Chinese sources, Wang outlines a politics of power that are crucial to understanding China's strategies today, especially its policy of "peaceful development," which, he argues, the nation has adopted mainly because of its military, economic, and technological weakness in relation to the United States.

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Author information

Yuan-kang Wang is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and the School of Public Affairs and Administration at Western Michigan University. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago and has received fellowships from Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and the Brookings Institution's Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies.

Review quote

a necessary read for those concerned with the issue of cultural versus strategic realism and Chinese strategic culture...highly recommended. Choice 9/1/2011 Wang's book provides an accessible, historically well-informed and methodologicallywell-constructed account of an important phenomenon of Chinese history. -- Aleksandra Kubat China Quarterly 3/1/12 ...a must-read for those who are interested in Chinese power politics and strategic culture. -- Julia Dinh T.H.L. Asian Politics and Policy Vol 4, No 4 2012 Yuan-kang Wang's Harmony and War is the most important and well-conceived application of structural realist theory to Chinese foreign policy (past and present) to date. -- Gregory J. Moore Journal of Chinese Political Science Vol 17, 2012

Table of contents

List of IllustrationsList of TablesPreface1. Confucian Strategic Culture and the Puzzle2. Culture and Strategic Choice3. The Northern Song Dynasty (960--1127)4. The Southern Song Dynasty (1127--1279)5. The Ming Dynasty (1368--1644)6. The Ming Tribute System7. Chinese Power Politics in the Age of U.S. UnipolarityNotesGlossary: Chinese TermsBibliographyIndex