Book Review: Niv Horesh and Emilian Kavalski (eds). 2014. Asian Thought on China’s Changing International Relations

AuthorJie Chen
Published date01 August 2015
Date01 August 2015
Subject MatterBook Reviews
AIA 2.2.indb Book Reviews
Journal of Asian Security
and International Affairs
2(2) 222–235
2015 SAGE Publications India
Private Limited
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/2347797015586129
Niv Horesh and Emilian Kavalski (eds). 2014. Asian Thought on China’s
Changing International Relations.
Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
254 pp. ISBN: 978-1-137-29932-1

To combine a debate over Chinese international relations (IR) theories with a
regional analysis, including a discussion of how China is viewed in the Middle
East and Central Asia, is a laudable attempt to strengthen both endeavours. The
volume has contributions from a number of high-calibre scholars from the region,
and this has definitely added an authoritative touch to the research and arguments
in the relevant chapters.
The chapters in Part I capture some of the major attempts in IR theorization
in China, through extensive literature review and focused analysis. From Wang
Hui’s conceptual and methodological contributions to other elite scholars’
trendy ideas which commonly smack of ‘Chinese exceptionalism’ and China
supremacy, the volume offers an in-depth critique of China’s intellectual
challenges to the Western IR paradigms. However, as William Callahan and
Linsay Cunningham-Cross indicated, one way or the other, some of those theo-
retical notions emanating from Beijing are not exactly ‘theories’ but ideas
grounded in nationalistic sentiment, the interests of the political regime or
historical cherry-picking (was Tibet part of tributary system or part of China
‘from time immemorial’?).
On the other hand, Yongnian Zheng and Dan Wu have made a creative move
to bring in Wang Gungwu, a great educator and scholar transcending political
fashions and with no interest in ‘advising’ the Chinese government. Wang has
been the leading authority on the subjects of overseas Chinese and China’s
imperial relations with Southeast Asia (Nanyang) for decades. However, his

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