Book Review: ‘Has China Won?’ by Kishore Mahbubani

Extensive, crucifying and intelligent analysis.


Book Title: Has China Won?
Author: Kishore Mahbubani
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 978-1541768147
Date Published: Feb. 24, 2022
Price: INR 561

Has China Won by Kishore Mahbubani Book Cover

Book Review

Understanding Geopolitics is essential in today’s Globalised environment. Developing mutual respect for civilizations is paramount to world peace. In this context, “Has China Won?” is a provocative and thought-provoking book that provides a valuable perspective on the US-China relationship. Diplomat, Polemist and author Kishore Mahbubani’s arguments are well-supported by evidence, and he offers some clear and concise recommendations for how the United States can improve its position in the world.

The book addresses vital inquiries that demand the attention of the United States and China, urging them to craft a comprehensive strategy that transcends mere rivalry. While acknowledging the inevitable competition between the two nations, the author underscores the significance of comprehending key issues to cultivate a sustainable relationship between the US and China. The book poses several questions to the United States, such as how it should navigate China’s escalating economic prowess, whether its priorities should prioritize the well-being of its citizens or dominate the international system, and whether it should reallocate investments from defense to social services and infrastructure.

Furthermore, the book explores how the US can forge alliances to counterbalance China, uphold the global significance of the US dollar in trade, promote soft power despite withdrawing from international agreements, and conduct a wise analysis of the competition with China. It also challenges whether the US’s concerns regarding China’s ascent are founded on rationality or impulsive fear and whether it mistakenly views the Chinese Communist Party solely as a communist entity rather than a representation of Chinese civilization. Lastly, the book contemplates China’s focus on a long-term strategy and its intent to shift the balance in its favor, contrasting it with the Western approach of seeking quick victories in chess.

The book has nine chapters, an introduction to the book initially, and references towards the end. The book’s introductory chapter sheds light on the ease and security of investing in China. It emphasizes that investors can navigate the investment landscape in China without worrying about land-related issues, allowing them to concentrate solely on maximizing profits. On the other side, Chapter – II of the book (China’s Biggest Strategic Mistake) expresses worry over the country’s failure to maintain excellent relations with the business sector, resulting in a weak position within the World Trade Organisation.

Going further, Chapter III highlights the United States’ lack of focus on diplomacy with China and East Asia, despite China’s economic advancements. Chapter IV examines China’s Belt and Road Initiative as a defensive expansionist strategy aimed at mutual financial benefit and strategic aid. In Chapter V, the author criticizes the US for lacking a coherent strategy in handling China, emphasizing the need to balance defense spending with research and development infrastructure. The influence of lobbyists on policymakers and excessive military intervention without long-term plans are identified as obstacles to effective diplomacy.

Likewise, Chapter VI explores whether China should embrace democracy and suggests that it may not be feasible or desirable given its large population. Instead, the focus should be on sustainable consumption and production. Chapter VII delves into the ethical theory of deontology and highlights that in global politics, being truthful or generous may not always be the most effective approach. Chapter VIII, particularly relevant to Pakistan’s diplomacy, emphasizes the need for strategic thinking and the development of think tanks to navigate international relations, including partnerships, alliances, and global governance initiatives, beyond the concept of neutrality.

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Finally, Author Mahbubani’s book asserts that China’s challenge to American dominance will significantly reshape the global order. The author praises China’s establishment of international institutions like the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization for their superior corporate governance compared to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. China’s growing influence and positions in various international organizations also challenge the US-led global political arena.

Overall, the book “Has China Won?” by Kishore Mahbubani critically examines these transformations and their long-lasting impact on global governance and international regimes, providing valuable insights for parliamentarians and foreign policy experts engaged in international communications.

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