The Mind of Empire: China's History and Modern Foreign Relations (Asia in the New Millennium)

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With an economy and population that dwarf most industrialized nations, China is emerging as a twenty-first-century global superpower. Even though China is an international leader in modern business and technology, its ancient history exerts a powerful force on its foreign policy. In The Mind of Empire: China's History and Modern Foreign Relations, Christopher A. Ford expertly traces China's self-image and its role in the world order from the age of Confucius to today. Ford argues that despite its exposure to and experience of the modern world, China is still strongly influenced by a hierarchical view of political order and is only comfortable with foreign relationships that reinforce its self-perception of political and moral supremacy.

Recounting how this attitude has clashed with the Western notion of separate and coequal state sovereignty, Ford speculates―and offers a warning―about how China's legacy will continue to shape its foreign relations. Ford examines major themes in China's conception of domestic and global political order, sketches key historical precedents, compares Chinese ideas to the tradition of Western international law, and outlines the remarkable continuity of China's Sinocentrism. Artfully weaving historical, philosophical, religious, and cultural analysis into a cohesive study of the Chinese worldview and explaining its relevance, Ford offers a unique perspective of modern China.

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In the last century, no other nation has grown and transformed itself with such zeal as China. With a booming economy, a formidable military, and a rapidly expanding population, China is emerging as a twenty-first-century global superpower. China's prosperity has increased dramatically in the last two decades, propelling the nation to a prominent position in the international community. Yet China's ancient history still informs and shapes its understanding of itself in relation to the world. As a highly developed and modern nation, China is something of a paradox.

Though China is an international leader in modern business and technology, its past remains a source of guiding principles for the nation's foreign policy. In The Mind of Empire: China's History and Modern Foreign Relations, Christopher A. Ford demonstrates how China's historical awareness shapes its objectives and how the resulting national consciousness continues to influence the country's policymaking. Despite its increasing prominence among modern, developed nations, China continues to seek guidance from a past characterized by Confucian notions of hierarchical political order and a "moral geography" that places China at the center of the civilized world.

The Mind of Empire describes how these attitudes have clashed with traditional Western ideals of sovereignty and international law. Ford speculates about how China's legacy may continue to shape its foreign relations and offers a warning about the potential global consequences. He examines major themes in China's conception of domestic and global political order, describes key historical precedents, and outlines the remarkable continuity of China's Sinocentric stance. Expertly synthesizing historical, philosophical, religious, and cultural analysis into a cohesive study of the Chinese worldview, Ford offers revealing insights into modern China.

The Mind of Empire tracks China's astonishing development within the framework of a national ideology that is intrinsically linked to the distant past. Ford's perspective is both pertinent and prescient at a time when China is expanding into new areas of power, both economically and militarily. As China's power and influence continue to grow, its reliance on ancient philosophies and political systems will shape its approach to foreign policy in idiosyncratic and, perhaps, highly problematic ways.

About the Author:

Christopher A. Ford is Senior Counsel for National Security Policy at the U.S. Senate Banking Committee. He previously served as Republican Chief Counsel at the Senate Committee on Appropriations, as a Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute, United States Special Representative for Nuclear Nonproliferation, and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State. He is the author of The Mind of Empire: China's History and Modern Foreign Relations.

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