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Books on EU and Asia of interest to our readers 


Book review: Chinese Assertiveness in the South China Sea by Richard Turcsányi

By Ariane Combal-Weiss

24 May 2018

Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea (SCS) is a buzzword in the Asian strategic landscape. Perhaps only the DPRK nuclear crisis can compete among the top challenges to the ‘rules-based international order’ in Asia. But China’s rise and involvement in the SCS have a particular meaning, as they are major factors in the global power shifts of the 21st century. Yet the very notion of China’s ‘assertiveness’ is often taken for granted. The rationales, the characteristics and the factors underpinning Chinese growing assertiveness are rarely investigated. This is the gap Richard Turcsányi fills in his new study of Chinese behaviour in the SCS.

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Book Reviews - INGLORIOUS EMPIRE by Shashi Tharoor

By Fraser Cameron

5 April 2017

Theresa May’s first overseas trip was to India hoping to start the process of an UK-Indian FTA. But she and the Brexiteers who are calling for ‘Empire 2’ should read this well written, detailed account of British rule in India to try and understand what India really thinks about the UK. Playing on the UK’s alleged benevolent colonial role in India is unlikely to win friends. With a mass of detail and statistics, Shashi Tharoor, a former senior UN official and foreign affairs minister for Congress, demolishes the still-widespread view in the UK that British rule brought numerous benefits to the sub-continent.

The India that the British gradually conquered in the middle of the 18th century was responsible for 23% of global GDP. When the British departed in unseemly haste 200 years later this percentage had dropped to just over 3%. The British industrial revolution was built on the back of India’s thriving manufacturing, especially shipbuilding and textiles. India’s booming textile sector was destroyed by imposing punitive tariffs so that ‘the dark satanic mills’ in England could profit. The forced de-industrialisation of India meant that millions had to resort to subsistence agriculture thus worsening rural poverty.

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