is a book which aggrivated me to to no end as I read it. It’s basic premise – that the Chinese government is relatively fragile domestically – is similar to Susan Shirk’s great book China Fragile Superpower, but instead of focusing on problems this causes for China, Stefan Halper focuses on the problems this causes for the rest of the world.
For example he discusses Chinese relationships with countries the west spurns, such as Iran, Venzualia, or Zimbabwe. The government in each of these countries has taken actions we find repugnant, and so we punish the governments via sanctions and other means. China has few great friends around the world and sees these countries as opportunities, all it has to do is ignore the terrible domestic situations of these other countries (this fits nicely with China’s own demands other stay out of its ugly domestic politics). By imposing sanctions on these countries we are really pushing them into the arms of the Chinese.
The thing that aggravated me most when reading this book is that Halper is right about all of this, but there is no easy solution. It’s like a bad dream where it feels like you’re swimming in syrup, you know something bad is coming but you can hardly move to get out of the way.