The Great Wall and the Empty Fortress

The Great Wall and the Empty Fortress by Andrew J Nathan and Roert S Ross is an older book, published in 1998.  This fact colors most of the book but it still covers a lot of information that is relevant today. The book starts out by describing the modern history of China (since about the 1900’s) and moves into China’s strategic relationship with it’s most important neighbors. The final section is an analysis of China’s ‘current’ position in the world and is less relevant aside from a historical view of China’s position.

How old is the book? When the book was written:

  • China hadn’t yet joined the World Trade Organization
  • The second straight crisis with Taiwan had just occurred
  • Taiwan had only recently transitioned to a democratic government
  • China hadn’t yet had thee nearly twenty years of economic growth leading to it’s position as second largest

The most frustrating thing for me in 2014 reading this book is that it is such a great analysis of the Chinese situation. It gives great insight into the Chinese relationship with and approach to America, Taiwan, Russia, India, other Southeast Asian countries, the rest of the ‘Third World’, and Europe. In the end though the book is probably too old to recommend for most people. However I do plan on reading other books by the authors.

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