In This Review

The Dynamics of Foreign-Policy Decision Making in China
The Dynamics of Foreign-Policy Decision Making in China
By Lu Ning
Westview Press, 1997, 218 pp

This pathbreaking volume, written by a former career Chinese foreign service officer who now lives and works in Singapore, is the best book published to date on the process of foreign policy-making in China. Based on a wealth of Chinese and Western data, personal experience, and interviews, the volume provides fascinating and important details on, for example, the Chinese decision to intervene in the Korean War and on the Chinese rapprochement with the United States in the early 1970s. There is a brief but trenchant analysis of the change in foreign policy decision-making after Deng Xiaoping took power in 1978 and the shift in focus on the part of the central leadership from the nation's physical security (which no longer seems to be threatened) to its economic development. The author also analyzes the erosion of the preponderant role of the paramount leader and the emergence of a more collectivized decision-making process with checks and balances, which leads to greater authority for both the foreign affairs establishment and for other bureaucracies, at the expense of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Chinese military, says the author, has not become an independent force in foreign policy decision-making, but instead remains firmly under the control of established guidelines formulated by the civilian central leadership.