Book review: Elizabeth C. Economy, The World According to China

Published date01 June 2024
AuthorOrhan Çifçi
Date01 June 2024
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Journal of Asian Security
and International Affairs
11(2) 284–292, 2024
© The Author(s) 2024
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/23477970241250127
Book Reviews
Elizabeth C. Economy, The World According to China. Cambridge:
Polity Press, 2022, 304 pp. (hardback). ISBN: 9781509537495
How does China strive to realise its global goals, and how do Xi Jinping’s policies
support these goals? In her vital book, The World According to China, Elizabeth
Economy presents China’s global ambitions to reshape the rule-based interna-
tional order.
Analysing China’s current policy preferences and behaviours in a wide spec-
trum, Economy divides the book into seven chapters to shed light on China’s path
to global leadership. As the author puts it, Xi’s global ambitions are multifaceted
rather than shallow. Examining the emergence and continuation of COVID-19
process, Chapter 1 argues that even the pandemic has turned into a strategic oppor-
tunity for Chinese leaders’ global ambitions. The pandemic has strengthened the
authority and legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) within China.
Externally, despite many criticisms by the international community against Chinese
healthcare, China made efforts to position itself as an international leader against the
Chapter 2 demonstrates that China’s strong economy and army are the coun-
try’s most notable assets in making its global goals a reality. The author shows
through the data that the United States has the largest military power, but China is
closing the gap incrementally. China is now the third largest nuclear power and
will most likely double the number of existing nuclear warheads in the future.
Apart from its strategic weapons, as the author illustrates, the elevation of China’s
aviation and navy capabilities are also specifically noteworthy. For Economy,
China also makes its military effectiveness more challenging in world politics by
intensifying its defence cooperation with many countries through arms sales and
military bases.
It is not appropriate to claim that the success achieved in hard power is a valida-
tion for soft power, though China devotes a large budget to improve its image in the
world. Economy proves that China always ranks low in soft power ratings. Although
educational and cultural instruments are the main drivers of China’s soft power
success, human rights violations and foreign policy characteristics push China back
in the rankings. According to a study cited by the author, the majority of North
America, Europe and Asia describe the Xi administration’s policy approach to world
affairs as negative. Likewise, China’s fascinating economic rise and trade volumes
do not always contribute positively to its soft power. Contrary to general belief,

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