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The Coming China Wars (2006)

 The Coming China Wars: Where they will be fought and where they can be won (2006) is a book by Dr. Peter Navarro, Professor of Business at University of California-Irvine about the intense competition between US and China. The book discusses the relatively rapid emergence of China as a formidable power in the modern global economy and how China’s rise is a threat to the world. He attributes China’s success to low cost labor, disregard for the health and safety of factory workers (and citizenry in general), currency manipulation, export subsidies, rampant counterfeiting and piracy, and oppression of the poor and the weak. It describes a China threatened by internal turmoils (e.g. peasant uprisings) and external problems (e.g. Japan), trapped between tradition and modernity, and unsure of the right balance between communism and capitalism. It describes the problems China faces and its inability (and in some cases, unwillingess) to deal with most of those problems. The underlying thesis of the book is that a global conflict between China and the US is inevitable and offers suggestions on the steps US government can take to win the war with China.

Most experts, analysts, and lay people around the world agree that China has emerged as a global power in the last few years. There is a general consensus that the China of today is much stronger than the China of 50 years back and that the rapid ascent of China is going to continue at least in the near future. Where people disagree is the factors that led to this ascent and the global consequences of China’s power. Professor Novarro’s book is not an unbiased analysis of the factors and consequences of China’s economic success, but it is certainly a passionate and well-written account of why China is a threat to the world. Notably, Professor Novarro is not the only one who holds the views expressed in this book, many China experts, popular commentators, and talk show hosts in the US have often expressed similar views on TV and other public forums (e.g. Glenn Beck and Sean Hannerty).

I enjoyed reading this book and I recommend it to people who want to learn more about China and its relationship with China. I do not believe, and I am sure Professor Novarro would agree with me, that the book provides an unbiased discussion of the various China-related issues. However, I do not think the bias of the author is a weakness of the book. In fact, I think it’s a strength. Professor Novarro has wonderfully articulated the views held by a sizeable section of the US people (and many in other countries) about China. He has clearly stated that most of the research for the book was done on the internet and makes no claim of looking at things from a Chinese (or non U.S.) perspective. The biases have been acknowledged, now let the conversation begin!


Filed under Books