February 11th, 2010 at 8:12 am
On The China Beat Jeffrey Wasserstrom recently interviewed Warren I. Cohen about the forthcoming new (fifth) edition of his book America’s Response to China: A History of Sino-American Relations.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
Jeffrey Wasserstrom: Looking back at the four times you revised it, what would you say was the revision that required the most dramatic updating?
Warren I. Cohen: Two things: 1) most obviously the rise of China to great power status. The last chapter of the new edition is titled “America in the Age of Chinese Power.” 2) the emergence of democracy in Taiwan. I had lived there 1964-1966 and grew very hostile to the regime there. I never expected the political changes that came in the 1980s and had no qualms about the island reverting to Beijing’s rule. I had to change my approach to the Taiwan issue, especially after the Tiananmen massacres.
JW: Is there any choice passage from a new part of the latest edition, whether in a “Preface” or “Epilogue,” that you’d be willing to share with us as a teaser? Or perhaps a section from an earlier edition that still seems surprisingly up-to-date in light of recent developments?
WIC: Here are the concluding lines of the new edition: “Today, much as in the time of Theodore Roosevelt, American leaders want—and American interests require—a peaceful, prosperous, open, responsible, and cooperative China. The chances of China realizing these hopes are reasonably good, given the extent of shared interests and what are likely to be the primarily domestic concerns of both nations in the near term. Americans who study and work on Chinese-American affairs would also like to see a democratic and friendly China. They are not likely to see either in the foreseeable future. And in the early years of the new millennium most Americans are not so sure that a strong China is in their nation’s interest.”