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China and Coexistence

, 264 pages

4 line drawings

March 2012



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China and Coexistence

Beijing's National Security Strategy for the Twenty-First Century

"Peaceful coexistence," long a key phrase in China’s strategic thinking, is a constructive doctrine that offers China a path for influencing the international system. So argues Liselotte Odgaard in this timely analysis of China's national security strategy in the context of its foreign policy practice.

China’s program of peaceful coexistence emphasizes absolute sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states. Odgaard suggests that China’s policy of working within the international community and with non-state actors such as the UN aims to win for China greater power and influence without requiring widespread exercise of military or economic pressure.

Odgaard examines the origins of peaceful coexistence in early Soviet doctrine, its midcentury development by China and India, and its ongoing appeal to developing countries. She reveals what this foreign policy offers China through a comparative study of aspiring powers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She explores its role in China’s border disputes in the South China Sea and with Russia and India; in diplomacy in the UN Security Council over Iran, Sudan, and Myanmar; and in China’s handling of challenges to the legitimacy of its regime from Taiwan, Xinjiang, and Japan.

Liselotte Odgaard is a professor in the Institute for Strategy at the Royal Danish Defence College. She was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center in 2008–2009.

"Rather than dismissing the principle of (peaceful) coexistence as either propaganda or a necessary policy of a weak power, Liselotte Odgaard unravels the concept as the driving strategy behind China's foreign and national security policy and shows how it has been successful in both protecting and progressively maximizing China's interests."

"A superior analysis of a topic of tremendous importance to scholars and policy makers alike."

"A powerful survey highly recommended for any serious collection on China's politics and place in the world."

"Nations lacking the military and economic clout to bring coercive measures to bear in support of their national interests must find other means. Peaceful coexistence is an attractive alternative that has been tried by a number of nations in modern history. None have used it more successfully than have the Chinese... Odgaard describes how China successfully applied this fundamental foreign policy over the last 40 years."

"This well researched, substantive, and thought-provoking book is laid out well and is ways to read and digest. Whether or not you agree with the author's logic and conclusions, the book is worth the read for its superb analysis. Military and interagency professional, international relations and political science students and academics, as well as others interested in the emergence of China, its foreign policy, and its evolving role in international affairs would benefit from reading it."

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