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Changing Contours

T.C.A. Ranganathan

Srikanth Kondapalli and Priyanka Pandit
Pentagon Press, New Delhi, 2016, Pg 274, Rs. 1295

VOLUME XLI NUMBER 2 February 2017

This book uses BRICS as reference point to examine the changing contours of China’s international relationships as it grapples and comes to terms with the new imperatives posed by its internal economic growth and what this implies for the world. The book consists of 12 essays grouped into 2 sections: ‘Thematic’ and ‘Bilateral relations’ apart from a detailed introduction and 8 annexures giving tabular data/statistics to supplement the main book. Each of the essays, by a mix of Chinese and Indian scholars, are complete and self-standing and can well be read in isolation but taken together, contain considerable statistical detail and analytical perspectives to provide a masterly overview of the nuances of Chinese positioning, global governance and BRICS objectives and the movement time paths, as also considerable insight of the issues/ constraints facing the constituent economies. The editors bring out that the intent of the book is to stimulate discussion about China’s policies, multilateralism and approach towards global governance. The subtitle ‘Setting up a different kitchen’ draws from a policy approach suggested by Mao Zedong at the origin of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949, desiring not a stop-gap arrangement of reconstruction but a comprehensive plan, distancing from past practices and ushering in new perspectives. The book’s introduction states that it is important to keep this phrase in focus while evaluating Chinese foreign policy dilemmas/ postures. It states that the theme’s importance can be gauged by using a proxy tool, i.e., the extent of revealed domestic interest as evidenced in the time series trendlines of academic articles in Chinese universities/think tanks published ‘around’ this theme. It is stated that this phrase is one of the three main guiding principles of Chinese foreign policy right from 1949, along with the other two principles enunciated by Mao at the same time viz., ‘clean up the house and invite the guests’ and ‘leaning to one side’ (i.e., Soviet Union in 1949). The reference background used to evaluate Chinese foreign policy dilemmas or ‘BRICS’, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, represents one of the prominent institutional manifestations of emerging markets for asserting their interests, reform objectives and worldviews. It came into being during the global financial crisis with the focus of reducing global dependence on the US Dollar and obtaining correction of the historically inherited disparities. Several essays unveil different aspects of the origins of BRICS which can be ...

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