In this podcast interview, Dr. John W. Garver, author of China’s Quest: The History of the Foreign Relations of the People’s Republic of China, discusses his book with National Committee Vice President Jan Berris, sharing his motivations for writing the book and some of his findings about China’s more recent foreign policy initiatives, in particular its role in bringing about the achievement of the Iran nuclear deal.
When the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949, China was in a state of disarray. Decades of occupation and civil war had left the country fractured, famished, and impoverished. The new nation embarked upon an ambitious effort to overhaul its economic and political systems. While its domestic agenda was the priority for the Communist Party of China, China had, of course, to develop a foreign policy, particularly to deal with the world’s capitalist countries in the midst of the Cold War.
With memories of the “century of humiliation” fresh in the Chinese collective consciousness, countering inroads of Western bourgeois liberalism was at the top of China’s international agenda during the early years of the PRC. As the Cold War evolved, however, China’s foreign policy concerns did as well. Following Stalin’s death, China’s leadership grew increasingly skeptical of the Soviet Union (its erstwhile “big brother” and ally) and the intentions of its new Premier, Nikita Khrushchev. The consequent Sino-Soviet split exposed what author and scholar Dr. John Garver considers to be the real force shaping the PRC’s foreign policy: regime survival. While many political scientists have analyzed China’s approach to the split through a realist lens, focusing on national interest, Dr. Garver argues that de-Stalinization in the Soviet Union threatened the ideological foundation of the Chinese communist regime and that the change in China’s foreign policy was thus driven by the pressures of domestic politics.
Dr. Garver explored the dynamic history of China's foreign policy and analyzed China's current foreign policy initiatives in a conversation with the National Committee on April 14, 2016 in New York CIty.
Dr. John Garver is a leading scholar of Chinese foreign policy and the author of China’s Quest: History of the Foreign Relations of the People’s Republic of China, an authoritative and comprehensive narrative history of the PRC’s foreign relations from its nascence to the present day. His account underscores the significant role that domestic politics and regime survival have consistently played in driving China’s foreign policy.