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Book Review: China’s Asian Dream 

by Tom Pattinson
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China's Asia Dream

China’s Asian Dream: Empire Building Along the New Silk Road by Tom Miller

Long-time China resident, writer and journalist Tom Miller spent three years travelling around Asia along the various Belt and Road corridors to report from the front line on the effects, costs and consequences of China’s Belt and Road initiative.

In this excellent book, he manages to bring together China’s great ambitions for economic expansion and, as the sub-title says, empire building.

The book starts off with forensic research into the various ways the initiative is being funded, explaining how the failings of the established international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, have left China’s new Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and the country’s many well-funded, state-owned and private banks to fill the void.

The benefits for China are obvious. It has enabled Chinese construction companies to carry out the work and for them to use the oversupply of building materials. Crucially, it has allowed China’s poorer western regions to trade efficiently with their neighbours. A more economically and politically stable region will enable everyone to benefit, it is argued. However the growth of China’s sphere of influence is also very much a key ambition.

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Miller breaks the book up by region; those familiar with the Belt and Road corridors will be grateful to Miller for explaining it in such clearly demarcated geographical regions. Each chapter is brimming with case studies, examples and interviews with academics, politicians, business leaders and locals alike – all of which give a well-rounded and highly informed view from both the macro and micro-economic viewpoint.

What Miller excels at is seeing the big picture. What are China’s aims and goals in each region, each country and even each city, and why? He answers these questions, while not holding back on explaining where China has failed in its global ambition and where future risks lie.

China, Miller argues, will, of course, aim to dominate economically and militarily in Asia, and it is learning as it goes just how far it can push its neighbours in a bid to build its new empire.

“China’s Asian Dream” answers many of the questions about the consequences of China’s rise and what it means for the rest of the world.

“China’s Asian Dream” is available from Zen Books 

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