Beautiful Imperialist: China Perceives America, 1972-1990

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Beautiful Imperialist: China Perceives America, 1972-1990

By David Shambaugh
Princeton University Press, 1991
326 pp. $35.00

This path-breaking study of China's "America watchers" concludes that there is a large perception gap in U.S.-China relations. American policy-makers, says the author, were simply deluding themselves by thinking that China had become a "friend" or a quasi-ally. On the Chinese side, national disunity and impotence in the face of imperialist aggression for more than a century have left an indelible mark; great power chauvinism, interference in their internal affairs and so on should not be regarded as mere propaganda. In sum, both sides are imbued with a severe case of cognitive dissonance, wishful thinking, misinformation and misperception. Mutual understanding has improved considerably since 1972 but much still needs to be done.

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