In Engaging China, Gurtov identifies and details the many facets of China that worry critics. But he also argues for a strategy of coexistence that allows for economic and technological competition while managing frictions over issues so diverse as human rights and access to the South China Sea. This book is wide-ranging but compact; realistic but value-oriented; clearly argued but backed by extensive references to documents and scholarly literature--including writings by leading Chinese scholars who also seek a viable modus vivendi between the two great powers.
Mel Gurtov is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University. He previously was on the staff of the RAND Corporation, where he was an author of the Pentagon Papers, and then began his teaching career at the University of California, Riverside. He has written 30 books on China, US foreign policy, and international affairs, most recently America in Retreat: Foreign Policy under Donald Trump and Engaging Adversaries: Peacemaking and Diplomacy in the Human Interest, both published by Rowman & Littlefield. Dr. Gurtov is a former Senior Fulbright Scholar and is Senior Editor of Asian Perspective, which he served as Editor-in-Chief for over 20 years.
He blogs at https://melgurtov.com, has a podcast, and broadcasts weekly foreign affairs commentary on radio stations in Portland and Florence, Oregon.
Chapter 1: What Engagement Means and Why It Matters
Chapter 2: Understanding and Misunderstanding China
Chapter 3: China’s World
Chapter 4: China on the March, Forward and Backward
Chapter 5: Managing Conflict in US-China Relations
Chapter 6: Biden’s China Policy
Chapter 7: Four Cases of US-China Competition
Chapter 8: Engaging China
Gurtov argues that tensions between China and the United States since 2016 are partly the fault of both the Trump and Biden administrations and bipartisan Congressional actions, which have led to the demonization of China over issues like Taiwan, trade, COVID-19, genocidal polices in Xinjiang, and the crackdown on democracy proponents in Hong Kong. Although he takes China to task for its human rights violations, lack of transparency (especially during the pandemic), authoritarianism, and wolf warrior diplomacy, Gurtov urges the Biden administration to end its Cold War–like policies and attitudes. Biden should engage China with incentives instead of sanctions and return to high-level talks and Obama-era dialogue groups to achieve cooperation and agreement on numerous matters… Simultaneously, China needs to stop using “sovereignty” and “internal matters” as excuses when it sanctions, censors, and publicly denigrates any person or government that criticizes its policies and practices. Gurtov admits that engaging China might fail strategically, but it would clarify the playing field. Recommended. Undergraduates through faculty; professionals; general readers.
It has become common to characterise US–China relations as a clash for global leadership that could lead to a new cold war, or even a hot one…. Gurtov makes the case for engagement as a strategy that is not simply about having friendly relations, but about systematic, consistent, sustained and sincere efforts to find common ground, with the aim of reducing tensions and avoiding violent outcomes….
The author notes that the Chinese prefer to identify common ground and build on principles such as mutual respect and win–win cooperation before turning to areas of difference. The Americans, on the other hand, prefer to focus on immediate, difficult issues, such as tensions over Taiwan and the South China Sea. This results in the world’s most powerful countries consistently talking past each other.... The author is correct to point out a further danger: ‘American and Chinese leaders today operate from insecurity, internally as well as in their foreign relations’ (p. 5)…. The US is increasingly riven by political and social divisions, while the Chinese regime may face a crisis of legitimacy if it cannot continue to deliver high-speed economic growth. Both sides may find it hard to back down if a military accident occurs.
Mel Gurtov has analyzed and advised on US foreign policy toward China since the Vietnam War era and can attest to the strategic importance of engaging with adversaries and rivals. This fast-paced volume starts with a compelling argument for having a strategy of engagement in America’s foreign policy toolkit. It offers an up-to-date survey of the tense US-China relations during the Trump and Biden administrations and assesses the need for having engagement on the menu in managing these relations going forward. Strongly recommended.
A lucid, balanced, and up-to-dated analysis of current U.S.-China relations. Gurtov offers insightful and persuasive strategies for engaging China, while avoiding confrontation and conflicts. The must read for China specialists, policy-makers, and laymen interested in US-China relations.
Mel Gurtov makes a measured and powerful case that despite growing mutual mistrust and intensifying bilateral frictions, reengagement between the United States and China is not just urgently necessary, it is possible.
10/13/22, Choice Reviews: This book was featured in a roundup of forthcoming political science & economics titles.