Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Stanford University


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China's Rise: Contingency, Constraints, and Concerns

Book Review

Thomas Fingar - Stanford University

Published by
Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, Vol. 54 no. 1
Jan. 31, 2012

China is richer, stronger and more influential than at any time in the past 200 years, but it is also more dependent on developments and decisions made beyond its borders. It may also be more vulnerable than other rapidly rising big countries to internal problems and weaknesses. The complexity and contingency of the various domestic and external factors that promise to drive, constrain, and shape China’s ambitions and actions make confident prediction of the country’s future behavior and the efficacy of its policies exceedingly difficult. Indeed, the most accurate statement one could make about the possible shape, pace, and implications of China’s rise is: “It depends.” Aaron Friedberg’s thoughtful and thought-provoking A Contest for Supremacy does many things well, but what it does best is to underscore the uncertainties and contingencies that must be factored into any analysis of China’s rise and its implications for the United States and other nations.