The devil you know

When a China scholar of the eminence of David Shambaugh writes on the theme of America and China in South-east Asia, you need to read the book carefully. More so, when the author is one who, early in his career, accompanied Vietnam-era Secretary of Defence Bob McNamara to Asia as he pondered his policy errors there, and as a graduate student, met Mr Deng Xiaoping when he visited the United States in 1979.

Professor Shambaugh is no ordinary China hand. He was one of the influential China enthusiasts who thought integrating the mainland into the global system was a worthy enterprise. Today, he sometimes seems to be in a different place, perhaps even part of the “seismic shift in American thinking about China” that he writes about.

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