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The China choice

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The China Choice: Why We Should Share Power, by Hugh White, Oxford University Press (RRP£16.99, RRP$24.95)

August 18, 2013 4:50 pm

Search for a safer path in the race for Asia

Scores of titles on every aspect of China’s rise continue to appear. Most rehearse familiar themes and debates. Hugh White’s The China Choice is a rare exception that breaks new ground. It is also written in exceptionally lucid prose that reflects a bracing clarity of thought.

White was once a senior official in the Australian Department of Defence and is now a university professor. His argument is essentially that the US is set on a collision course with China that could well end in war. To avoid a catastrophic conflict, both nations must change course. Each country needs to recognise that it cannot dominate Asia alone. Instead, the two need to reach an explicit agreement to share power.

Although White emphasises that both China and the US will have to make difficult decisions to reach such an agreement, he places the onus on the US to make the first move. This is not because he regards American primacy as a bad thing. On the contrary, he writes that US leadership in the region has led to a “golden age” and that “Asia’s success today ranks among the great achievements of the American century”. The problem is that the facts have changed. In the next decade, China will probably become the world’s largest economy – a position that the US has held since the mid-1880s… MORE

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