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JSPES, Vol. 41, No. 4 (Winter 2016)
pp. 68–86

Sino-Japanese Relations; Past and Present

Aldric Hama

Hamamatsu, Japan

Middle Kingdom & Empire of the Rising Sun:
Sino-Japanese Relations, Past and Present

June Teufel Dreyer
Oxford University Press, 2016

A nuanced understanding of past Chinese and Japanese policy and Sino-Japanese relations helps explain the actions of these pivotal Asian nations. Dr. June Dreyer’s current book does not distill history down to a “good-guy, bad-guy” caricature, as done in so many contemporary textbooks, but clarifies the national interests that have so largely shaped East Asian history. The early 20th century was punctuated by a brief period of mutual cooperation between Republican China and Imperial Japan, but the People’s Republic of China’s current assertive policy towards its neighbors should be viewed as a return to historical imperial thinking which saw China at the center of a universal order and barbarians populating the periphery. That is something very different from the Maoist vision of spreading proletariat revolution. By contrast, Japan’s recent foreign policy and actions represent less an aggressive return to historic national interests. Than a collaboration with U.S. interests. Foreign policy specialists and others who wish to understand the policies and actions of the world’s second largest (and nuclear-armed) economy, China, and those of the world’s third largest economy, Japan, will find Dr. Dreyer’s current discussion highly enlightening.