In This Review

Weaving the Net: Conditional Engagement With China
Weaving the Net: Conditional Engagement With China
Edited by James Shinn
Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1996, 284 pp.

A well-reasoned argument for advancing American interests in Asia and a substantial contribution to the debate on China. The volume calls for ‘conditional engagement’ and identifies ten guiding principles; for example, peaceful resolution of territorial disputes, freedom of navigation, and transparency of military forces. There are several thoughtful essays by American and Asian scholars and a variety of sound advice.

Still, one is left with many doubts about whether a shiny new set of principles will somehow resolve the problems between the United States and China. First, by their very nature, the principles are subject to divergent interpretations. China regards its sovereignty over Taiwan as a matter of principle and refuses to renounce the right to use force against a part of it own territory. Taiwan asserts another common principle: the right of self-determination. Finally, and perhaps most important, powerful domestic forces are at work in both China and the United States that are determined to demonize the other side.