"This book doesn't focus on China or even US-China relations but the ripples in the fabric of order."by Shashank Joshi / July 14, 2016 / Leave a comment
Easternisation: War and Peace in the Asian Century by Gideon Rachman (Bodley Head, £20)
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a journalist in possession of a newspaper column must be in want of a big China book. Not all of them are very good. But Easternisation, by the FT’s Gideon Rachman, avoids the barriers of banality and sensationalism that have tripped up others. One reason for this is that, at heart, this isn’t really a book about China, or even the US-China relationship, but about ripples in the fabric of the world order. Indeed, Beijing barely figures in a trio of excellent chapters on American military power, the Middle East and Europe.
China’s material and psychological rise is of course a central part of the challenge to western institutions, alliances and assumptions. But the world order is also being stressed by the populist challenge of Donald Trump, Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and creeping authoritarianism in outposts of the west like Hungary and Turkey. These are only loosely connected to Asia, yet they inevitably sap the west’s willingness and ability to manage China’s rise, in part by creating opportunities for Beijing to extend its influence westward. A post-Brexit Britain, for instance, may court China with redoubled zeal.
Rachman assesses these trends with cool detachment, though ultimately concludes that “America’s determination to push back against Chinese hegemony in the Pacific is both morally defensible and strategically feasible.” The value of his accomplished book is to give us a better understanding of just how difficult and dangerous that will be.