China and The Art of (losing) War


HONG KONG — There’s no question that Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” is a brilliant strategy manual.

Everyone from Oracle’s Larry Ellison to the New England Patriots’ Coach Belichick has cited the ancient general’s maxims.

Even Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf was a Sun Tzu devotee.

But when it comes to China’s foreign policy, Sun Tzu’s theories is leading China astray.

That’s one of the intriguing arguments put forward by Edward Luttwak, a China expert and military strategist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in his new book, “The Rise of China vs. the Logic of Strategy.

Luttwak argues that by bullying its neighbors and resorting too often to deception, China is suffering the shortcomings of ancient strategic ideas. These practices, he says, have generated resentment toward China.

With a recent Pew Poll showing that only 5 percent of Japanese and 37 percent of Americans have a positive view of China — down 24 and 14 percentage points, respectively, from previous surveys — it’s clear that something is wrong with China’s diplomacy.

In a conversation with GlobalPost, Luttwak explains why he thinks Chinese leaders would be wise to shed Sun Tzu’s theories if they want to build better relations with the outside world. (The interview has been edited and condensed by GlobalPost.)


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