Richard Bernstein and Ross H. Munro have pooled their extensive experience observing China to produce a shocking account of what they believe will be the “the major global rivalry in the first decades of the twenty-first century, the rivalry that will force other countries to take sides.” The authors describe an inevitable conflict between an aggressive and expansionist China that sees itself as the rightful arbiter of power in Asia and a naive and unprepared United States that has already entered three wars in the last half century to prevent any single country’s domination of Asia. In previously unpublished reports of Chinese news sources, Bernstein and Munro thoroughly document how the Chinese press portrays the United States as the “Enemy” in no uncertain terms.
Like Alastair Iain Johnston’s superb study of Chinese military culture, Cultural Realism, Bernstein and Munro do not stoop to unfair characterization of the Chinese culture or the Chinese people. The grounds for their thesis–that the United States and China are on a collision course over strategic national goals–are well documented in their book. Their argument is particularly strong in its consideration of how China can use its economic influence to curb other nations such as Japan and South Korea. Certain to be the most controversial book published on the subject of Sino-American relations for some time, The Coming Conflict with China makes for a thrilling, troubling read.