Towards the End of Isolationism: China's Foreign Policy After Mao

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Towards the End of Isolationism: China's Foreign Policy After Mao

By Michael Yahuda
St. Martin's, 1984
279 pp. $25.00
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This is one of the few books to examine in depth China's foreign policy since the death of Mao, but its more lasting contribution is its analysis of Mao's geopolitical thinking. Always preoccupied (as are the post-Mao leaders) with the balance of forces between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, after 1968 Mao came to see the Soviet Union as a rising expansionist power and the U.S. as a declining one. And he saw a decisive connection between Soviet ambitions elsewhere and Soviet policy in Asia: the Soviet Union would be unable to attack China unless the U.S. first "let them into" the Middle East and Europe. This is what Mao told Henry Kissinger and what the Chinese leaders continue to believe. Yahuda also has some interesting comments on Mao's concept of "overextension." As early as 1973 Mao argued that the Soviet Union was overextended. Implicit in this is the view that the point would someday be reached when Soviet domestic and societal weakness, combined with overextendedness abroad, would inhibit and check Soviet expansion. These are also useful terms of reference for Western analysts.