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Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China's Push for Global Power

By Howard W. French 

Knopf Publishing, 2017

Howard French examines the past and present of China’s interactions with its neighbors, and in doing so, makes the case for the importance of increased awareness among Americans of China’s intentions, despite the minimal attention U.S.-Sino relations receive in the press or on the campaign stump. For many years after its reform and opening in 1978, China maintained an attitude of false modesty about its ambitions. However, that role, French argues, has been set aside; instead, the author persuasively claims that China has asserted its place among the global superpowers, revealing its plans for pan-Asian dominance by building its navy, modernizing its army, and increasing territorial claims to areas like the South China Sea. French asserts that, by understanding how China's historical identity relates to current actions, we can learn to forecast just what kind of global power China stands to become--and how to interact wisely with a future peer.

  • Former New York Times journalist Howard W. French makes it clear China's sense of national superiority is of more than historical significance... Living up to its awesome self-image has required China to dispatch fleets and armies, and to develop a highly sophisticated diplomatic stagecraft of flattery and intimidation. For centuries, exercising this mandate of heaven has meant relentless efforts to manage and cajole, to pacify and control.

    David Mulroney

    Distinguished Fellow at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. He served as Ambassador of Canada to the People’s Republic of China from 2009 to 2012
  • By examining the history of China’s neighborly relations, French aims to illuminate their present and their future. This approach is both useful and relevant, as China’s long history of regional dominance casts a long shadow.

    Mike Cormack

    editor, reviewer and writer for the Hong Kong Book Review
  • French has curated a history of China’s foreign relations by the light of which current events can be read, with the titular tian xia providing the central thread. Across changing dynasties and political systems, the leaders of China steadily regarded the known world, “everything under the heavens,” as their dominion by divine right.

    Tyler Rothmar

    Tokyo-based writer and editor
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