Vince’s New Book – China: Engage! Avoid the New Cold War

He has done it again.  Sir Vince Cable has seemingly effortlessly published yet another book. This is at least his 6th, following Globalisation and Global Governance (2000), The Storm (2009), Free Radical (2010),  After the Storm (2015) and the novel Open Arms (2018). Despite its shorter length at around 99 pages, it is packed full with well researched facts and figures, insightful analysis, and is reflective of the mind of an ex economist and academic.

The title China: Engage! Avoid the New Cold War, makes clear his dovish view where it concerns the cold (and possible hot) war involving China. This stance is not ideologically driven but grounded on global evidence seen through the eyes of a senior statesmen and former Business Secretary in the UK Government (2010-2015).

The chapters are constructed in digestible chunks covering China’s economic rise, reasons for deteriorating relations with the US, alignment of the other nations and the more serious tech war.  I say serious as we all know that now in our 4th industrial revolution whoever comes out on top in the IT/AI race will be the one that rules the waves.

I write this serving my 14 day quarantine in a designated facility in Singapore and if not for access to wifi, I would be climbing the walls.  But instead I have just been watching Irina von Wiese speak on Brexit at the European Liberal Forum and am about to log into the Covid19 Anti Racism webinar hosted by the Chinese Welfare Trust charity.  Sadly anti-China sentiment has resulted in a sharp rise in hate crime against the Chinese diaspora communities in the UK and around the world.

But I digress, back to the book.

It is published in paper back at £6.99 but is also available free on Kindle.

Here are extracts from a couple of reviews on Amazon.

Sir Vince states that through the deft use of “soft-power” Western economic powers need to learn, adapt and influence China through the lens of mutual trust and cooperation and not feel fearful or distrustful of China and its expansionist economic ambitions. Sir Vince states that through mutual respect and understanding we can avoid conflict and engage with China for the benefit of all of humanity. Kaleem

Thanks in part, but not solely, to Donald Trump, the West is taking an increasingly antagonistic line with China, which seems potentially to lead us all back into a frightening new Cold War, in which we’re at the mercy of a nuclear conflict. Vince Cable argues that we must engage with China and stop this happening.  Paul

And to which I have added mine:

 A ‘must read’ for China watchers and policy makers

A timely publication on how UK should respond to the phenomenon of a rising China confronting sabre rattling by the US. In bite sized chapters the author recounts China’s evolution from a socialist industrial economy into a successful consumer and service based one. It is indeed the US’s fear of being overtaken in the tech war that has led to the new cold war. Meanwhile different countries have lined up to take sides (the Lone Ranger and his Posse). But must we follow suit

With the keen analysis of an economist coupled with the experience of a seasoned politician Vince Cable is able to shed light on the road ahead.


* Merlene was co-founder of Chinese Liberal Democrats and on the executive of the LibDems Overseas. She co-edited “Rise of China – Fresh Insights and Observations” published by the Paddy Ashdown Forum (2021)

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  • In his Bangkok visit on Thursday, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has sought to cast Beijing as Thailand’s ‘big friend’
    He was expected to press the Thai government to sign an agreement on a rail link which is part of the massive infrastructure China is building in SE Asia as part of the Belt and Road initiative.
    The visit comes as Thai Prime Minister Prayuth struggles to keep a lid on rising anti-government protests.

  • Innocent Bystander 16th Oct '20 - 7:45am

    Engagement or appeasement?

  • Innocent Bystander

  • Innocent Bystander 16th Oct '20 - 9:20am

    I will see which style of coexistence the PRC adopts with Taiwan in the coming years, or even months if they perceive President Biden to be a ‘Paper Tiger’.

  • David Evans 16th Oct '20 - 2:40pm

    Without doubt, the words engage and engagement are two of the most meaningless expressions ever adopted in diplomatic language.

    The meaning can stretch from Tony Blair and David Milliband’s attempts to court favour with China “Miliband urges engagement with China”

    which culminated with the State Visit of Jiang Zemin to London in 2009

    to “North Korean Forces engaged with those of South Korea when the communist country backed by China invaded South Korea in 1950.”

    I worry massively when people quote things like “Sir Vince states that through the deft use of “soft-power” Western economic powers need to learn, adapt and influence China through the lens of mutual trust and cooperation and not feel fearful or distrustful of China and its expansionist economic ambitions.”

    Not feel fearful or distrust Chinese expansionist economic ambitions? I don’t know if Vince actually said this (as it is a quite from an Amazon Reviewer not from his book), but we only need to look at Chinese behaviour towards the Uighurs, the people of Hong Kong, Tibet, in the South China Sea and towards India to know we all need to be fearful of Chinese expansionism.

  • Innocent Bystander
    It is ROC Taiwan and there are no moves to change that. Neither side wants a war. The PLA is much larger than the island’s military but they have said their missiles are sufficient for defensive needs.
    Biden will support democracy. He won’t cozy up to dictators as Trump does. Under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, the U.S. is obliged to help provide ROC Taiwan with the means to defend itself.

  • David Evans.
    China has delineated its land borders except with India. The problem with India is Kashmir. India does not recognise that Pakistan has a border with China.

  • David Evans 16th Oct '20 - 6:52pm

    Manfarang, but does that excuse brutal hand to hand fighting etc etc? Certainly I don’t. True it takes two to make a war, but it does show an attitude of mind in the leadership.

    And as for all the other things, I think the case I made still stands.

  • Along the Line of Actual Control the troops do not use lethal weapons. Both sides have agreed to peacefully resolve the situation in accordance with the various bilateral agreements between the two nations, according to the Indian ministry of external affairs.

  • Nom de Plume 17th Oct '20 - 10:25am

    China is fundamentally different. It is a one party state. It is a dictatorship. Everything is political. It has imperial ambitions. It could yet use force. Unlike the Soviet version, it is not an economic basket case. “soft-power” does not work with this sort of thing. A coherent Western response is required. I don’t expect one from either Washington or Westminster.

  • Nom de Plume
    The response is for China internationally to be part of a rules based system and not to repress its citizens.

  • I am sure it’s of a high quality as always. Just so long as he stays away from fiction oh what a donkey that was.

  • David Evans 17th Oct '20 - 4:48pm

    Manfarang – and I am sure that there were agreements in the past and they were broken. What matters is not what is said, but what is done. Unless of course, you are prepared to tell us that you really and honestly trust China completely to abide by its agreements. In which case your view on their compliance with the the Joint accord on Hong Kong would be appreciated, if only as another hilarious example of people refusing to back down even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

  • David Evans
    Yes the agreements in the past were the unequal treaties.
    It remains to be seen in any case brought before the International Court of Justice which articles of the Joint Declaration have in fact been breached as that treaty clearly recognises Chinese sovereignty over what is now a special administrative region. On narrow legal grounds such a legal action is lightly to fail.
    However on political grounds it is important that the rights of Hong Kong people and its independent judiciary are strongly upheld as part of the two systems. Britain has obligations to the Hong Kong people whose views on their status were never actually asked during the negotiations between London and Beijing.

  • Robin Grayson FGS 17th Oct '20 - 10:57pm

    Vince well done for penning this much needed book.
    However I do share the concerns expressed by other respondents.
    I lived in Mongolia for twenty years, and mapped lots of things on Google Earth Pro not only in Mongolia but also in China. So here are a few questions for Vince:
    1: How come China had AWACs at Dingxin airbase in 18 March 2007, long before the west admitted China had this major strategic aircraft?
    2: How come China has a full-scale model of Taiwan’s main fighter defence base, near Dingxin along with a bombing range?
    3: Elsewhere there is a sizeable model of a strategic pass between Tibet and the disputed area of India. The model is a military training camp for China Helicopter Regiments. The India Ambassador complained to Beijing. Later I discovered In a China paper the headline over a photo of the camp “Our victorious parachutists preparing for battle”. This is not good news is it?

    Vince, China has a long way to go before it settles down as a confederation of different nations, different languages and different ethnicities.

  • Robin
    You should add that the Chinese military capability is still below that of the Americans.

  • David Evans 18th Oct '20 - 4:11pm

    Manfarang, Your first sentence in response to me is meaningless unless you specify what treaties and why. I presume you are not going back to the old treaty of Nanking (1842). After all we are talking about modern China. As for your “narrow legal grounds” we all know that if you narrow legal grounds enough you can justify almost anything.

    Finally you now want to point out British responsibilities having just diminished those of China. But bearing in mind this thread is about China, I fear you are simply missing the point this time.

    In essence, despite everything you have posted here. My original post still stands.

  • David Evans
    I am afraid the rejection of the old treaties very much influences the thinking of today’s China. As Deng Xiaoping said when Mrs. Thatcher first came to hold talks, she insisted that according to international law a treaty once signed remains valid and that Britain would continue its administration of Hong Kong after 1997. He told her that sovereignty was not negotiable and that China would recover the whole of Hong Kong in 1997.

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