Though China is an international leader in modern business and technology, its past remains a source of guiding principles for the nation’s foreign policy. In The Mind of Empire: China’s History and Modern Foreign Relations, Christopher A. Ford demonstrates how China’s historical awareness shapes its objectives and how the resulting national consciousness continues to influence the country’s policymaking. Despite its increasing prominence among modern, developed nations, China continues to seek guidance from a past characterized by Confucian notions of hierarchical political order and a “moral geography” that places China at the center of the civilized world.
The Mind of Empire describes how these attitudes have clashed with traditional Western ideals of sovereignty and international law. Ford speculates about how China’s legacy may continue to shape its foreign relations and offers a warning about the potential global consequences. He examines major themes in China’s conception of domestic and global political order, describes key historical precedents, and outlines the remarkable continuity of China’s Sinocentric stance. Expertly synthesizing historical, philosophical, religious, and cultural analysis into a cohesive study of the Chinese worldview, Ford offers revealing insights into modern China.
The Mind of Empire tracks China’s astonishing development within the framework of a national ideology that is intrinsically linked to the distant past. Ford’s perspective is both pertinent and prescient at a time when China is expanding into new areas of power, both economically and militarily. As China’s power and influence continue to grow, its reliance on ancient philosophies and political systems will shape its approach to foreign policy in idiosyncratic and, perhaps, highly problematic ways.