An incisive investigation of China’s ideological development as it becomes an ever more aggressive player in regional and global diplomacy.
For many years after Deng Xiaoping initiated the economic reforms that began in 1978 and led to its overtaking the USA as the world’s economic powerhouse, China maintained an attitude of false modesty about its ambitions. That diffidence has now been set aside. China has asserted its place among the global heavyweights, revealing its plans for pan-Asian geopolitical dominance by building up its navy, fabricating new islands to support its territorial claims in areas like the South China Sea, and diplomatically bullying smaller players.
Underlying this shift in attitude is a strain of thinking that casts China's present-day actions in historical terms. China is now once more on the path to restoring the glories of its dynastic past. Howard W. French demonstrates that if we can understand how that historical identity informs current actions — in ways ideological, philosophical, and even legal — we can learn to forecast just what kind of global power China intends to become — and to interact wisely with the superpower.
‘Howard French has tackled what is perhaps the most important issue of our time, and of many years to come, with the vivid prose of a first-rate reporter, the scholarship of an excellent historian, and great human sympathy.’
Ian Buruma, author of Year Zero: A History of 1945
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‘Taking full account of China's achievements and ambitions, without being panicked by them or losing sight of China's vulnerabilities, will be a major challenge for the next generation in the rest of the world — and in China itself. Howard French very lucidly lays out a guide to thinking about the next stage in China's evolution, and the positive signs and danger signals to be watching for.’
James Fallows, author of China Airborne
‘In the brilliant Everything Under the Heavens, Howard French offers a sweeping historical view of China’s relentless attempt to build an Asian world order around its unchallenged authority. French’s meticulously reported and beautifully written book is disquieting but essential reading.’
Nayan Chanda, former editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review
‘In Everything Under the Heavens, Howard French has written an absorbing and penetrating dissection of the deep roots of China's claims to large swathes of the oceans off Japan and south-east Asia, with profound implications for control over vitally important global trade. French understands that China's sense of historical entitlement is both deeply emotional and crudely political, and allows Beijing to pretend to stand with Asia, while standing over it at the same time.’
Richard McGregor, author of The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers
‘With Everything Under the Heavens, Howard French brings us a wonderfully well-researched and elegantly written book about what we might call China’s ‘shape memory.’ If you’re wondering why this singular country acts as it does, this volume will go a long way to explaining it.’
Orville Schell, Director, The Arthur Ross Director, Center on US-Relations, Asia Society
‘[Digs] deep into history … fascinating.’
The Irish Times