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How China Sees the World: Han-Centrism and the Balance of Power in International Politics, John M. Friend and Bradley A. Thayer

Reviewed by Ketian Zhang

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John M. Friend and Bradley A. Thayer analyze an important form of Chinese nationalism—Han-centric nationalism. Friend and Thayer examine the origins of China’s Han-centric nationalism, the potential effects of Han-centric nationalism on Chinese foreign policy, and policy recommendations for the United States.

Friend and Thayer argue, first, that Han-centrism “is a form of hypernationalism with distinct social Darwinian and culturally chauvinistic dimensions” (p. 4). According to them, Han-centrism is xenophobic and directed toward foreign nationals, other races, as well as ethnic minorities in China. Friend and Thayer then maintain that the origins of China’s Han-centric nationalism date back to the Qing dynasty, when it manifested itself particularly among late-Qing intellectuals. Moreover, they explore the effects of Han-centrism on contemporary Chinese foreign policy, suggesting that it is sometimes difficult for the Chinese government to restrain the nationalistic public and that Han-centrism harms China’s diplomatic relations, using China’s relations with the Global South as an example. Friend and Thayer conclude that the United States could “take advantage of Han-centrism” by adopting positive images to counter the negative connotations of China

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