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BOOK REVIEW: China’s Asian Dream
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China's Asian Dream

Author: Tom Miller

BT 201703 BOOK REVIEW 01Having previously authored China's Urban Billion, Tom Miller now moves on to examine China's diplomacy and neighborly economic strategy. As senior analyst for Gavekal Research and editor-at-large for China Economic Quarterly, Miller brings a wealth of knowledge to the subject as he examines China's diplomatic and economic strategies, from its uneasy relations with India and Vietnam to the broader effects of its South China Sea policy.

What has emerged is a sense of China's economic strength along with the ambivalence of nearby states towards China's rise. Infrastructure-building is welcomed, but doubts remain. Chinese companies, while creating valuable ports, railway lines and power stations, tend to import their own workers. This can raise tensions as governments cannot wish away security concerns and domestic anxieties for the sake of China's investment. Economic development can only go so far.

The book is filled with facts and local color and is effectively organised with each chapter dwelling only one aspect, such as the "One Belt, One Road" policy; the Indian Ocean; and South China Sea. Each is then further subdivided as per relevant nations. While this schematic is useful, it can make the book feel like a series of unconnected sketches. Though the conclusion does attempt to provide an overview, a broader discussion beyond China's bilateral relations would have been useful. But perhaps that would be another book altogether. This book is closely focused on China's relations with its immediate neighbors in south Asia and to that effect it is highly effective.

China's Urban Billion proved prescient in demonstrating that the furor over "ghost cities" was greatly overstated. But while economic trends can move inexorably, international relations can shift with great rapidity – already one feels some sections might be outdated, particularly with the new US administration. As a snapshot of China's relations with its neighbors, however, this book is highly recommended.


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