Sebastian Heilmann brings what is, for English-speaking readers, a somewhat rare European—or perhaps more precisely, German—perspective to the question of “China’s rise”, a term now almost de rigueur.
The South China Sea, notes Bernard Cole, a former US Navy captain who also taught maritime strategy at the National War College, covers four million square kilometers, has significant energy resources, and contains trade arteries through which one-third of the world’s commerce transits. Its geographic location astride the Southeast Asian littoral makes it the maritime gateway between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. China’s claim of sovereignty over the entire sea and conflicting claims by other countries in the region make the South China Sea a geopolitical flashpoint and potential scene of military conflict among regional and global powers.
Not only is The Silver Age: Origins and Trade of Chinese Export Silver a useful companion to the Hong Kong Maritime Museum exhibition of the same name, the catalog has enough material, extending well beyond the exhibition, to be a valuable volume in its own right.
Writers of all stripes tend to dislike discussing their formative years and experiences. Getting to grips with the job of translating one’s understanding of a subject into something publishable tends to be painful enough, without then raking over the process in retrospect. This can lead to a sense, however, that somehow writers arrive fully-formed, with a gift for observation and understanding which requires little practice or refinement. This feeling can be particularly acute in regard to those who write on China, the “university in which no degree is ever granted”, to adapt Stanley Karnow’s phrase, where the gulf between ignorance and understanding often appears so vast.
Arguably the most successful Western opera singer to come out of China, soprano He Hui is known for her roles in Madama Butterfly, Tosca and Aida.
Jude Woodward’s thesis in her latest book is quite simple: Washington is engaged in an orchestrated plot to contain the rise of China economically, militarily and ideologically.