Chaos Under Heaven Book Summary By Josh Rogin

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Chaos Under Heaven is an insightful book detailing the drama, strategy, and consequences of the Trump administration's policy toward China.

Through interviews and thorough research, author Andrew Small takes readers on a journey to uncover the intricate inner workings of Chinese politics and America's response.

Chaos Under Heaven explores how different interests have shaped the US's approach to one its largest adversaries, providing a detailed look at how competing strategies have led to a chaotic response.

The reader will learn about America's changing understanding of the Chinese state and gain insight into the complexities behind US decisions in this ongoing foreign policy challenge.

Chaos Under Heaven Book

Book Name: Chaos Under Heaven (America, China, and the Battle for the 21st Century)

Author(s): Josh Rogin

Rating: 4.2/5

Reading Time: 32 Minutes

Categories: Politics

Author Bio

Chaos Under Heaven, an insightful and thought-provoking book by journalist Josh Rogin, is a must-read for those interesting in world politics.

Rogin has been covering China, foreign policy, and international affairs for the past 15 years or so, writing for various top outlets such as Congressional Quarterly, Foreign Policy, the Daily Beast, Bloomberg View, and the Washington Post.

He’s reported from all over the world including Islamabad and Beijing to Rwanda and the United Nations making him a world-renowned expert on geopolitical matters.

With his extensive analysis and deep understanding of foreign affairs, Rogin's work provides readers with unparalleled insight into today’s complex global issues.

What’S Really Going On In China? Uncovering The Secrets Of Beijing With Chaos Under Heaven

Chaos Under Heaven

In the Chaos Under Heaven book, readers get a peek inside how the Trump Administration struggled to deal with an increasingly aggressive China.

With growing Chinese power and influence on the Table, the White House had to work hard to keep its relationship with Beijing in check while protecting US interests.

The book looks at the ways that China made it difficult for the US to maintain order, from their lack of respect for fair business practices and human rights, to their use of a social credit system.

It also examines the hawks and doves within the administration and how their competing views on policy regarding China caused it’s formulation to become anything but straightforward.

Finally, this captivating book reveals how millions of unsuspecting Americans may be investing in Chinese military operations without their knowledge.

Readers are sure to come away better informed about the real story behind US-China relations after they finish this insightful tale.

The Trump Administration Faced An Uphill Battle In Navigating America’S Complex Relationship With China

When Donald Trump won the 2016 US election, the Chinese government was forced to re-evaluate their expectations of a familiar diplomatic approach with their powerful neighbor.

Trump’s victory presented different challenges for the incoming administration, much more complex than those before it.

The US had maintained a largely supportive policy towards China since President George H.


Bush’s time as Chief Liaison in Beijing in the 1970s.

This stance had persisted into the Obama administration – however it became increasingly clear that this traditional relationship had failed when Beijing infiltrated corporate systems and stole intellectual property, whilst forcing firms into joint ventures which gave them greater access to copyrighted material.

The extent to which Chinese businesses were beholden to the State was also made increasingly apparent.

It was clear that China’s economic growth under the internet age had only further amplified its nationalistic, totalitarian and oppressive characteristics.

When Trump moved into the White House, he faced these issues without forgetting that there were deeper entanglements between America and China both economically and ideologically, making an already complex situation even more difficult for his new administration.

The Trump Administration’S Internal Conflict Between Hawks And Doves Led To Chaos Regarding China Diplomacy

China Diplomacy

From the onset of Donald Trump’s presidency, his administration was made up of two distinct factions: hawks and doves.

The hawks, headed by Steve Bannon, believed that China was an enemy and needed to be confronted for their unfair deals and practices.

On the other hand, Jared Kushner and the doves advocated for a more diplomatic approach that sought to maintain strong relations with China.

Kushner had access to back-channel communications between Washington and Beijing thanks to his family’s business ties, while Kissinger provided advice on how best to go about diplomatic negotiations with China.

Steven Mnuchin and Rex Tillerson were two Wall Street veterans who campaigned heavily for improved relations between the two countries as well.

Meanwhile Peter Navarro held firm in his stance on confronting China head-on with an aggressive trade policy.

Michael Flynn also agreed with this opinion until he was asked to resign shortly after this December 2016 meeting between Chinese officials and members of the Trump team.


T McFarland stumbled into a role as negotiator for both sides when she scolded Navarro’s hostile attitude towards the Chinese diplomat in attendance.

Trump’S Mixed Messages Concerning China Led To A Compromise On Trade Negotiations

Xi Jinping’s trip to Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort on April 7, 2017 marks the beginning of prolonged trade negotiations between China and the United States.

Before then, President Trump had accepted a congratulatory call from the president of Taiwan – an act that was seen as deeply offensive by China as it viewed Taiwan as a rogue province.

It took months for President Trump to apologize for taking that call and then arrange for talks with Chinese leader Xi Jinping about a trade deal.

Xi agreed to come to Mar-a-Lago to discuss this further – something which certain political figures disagreed with.

Nevertheless, after much discussion, Trump promised not to call China a “currency manipulator,”and the two leaders agreed to enter into a 100-day “Comprehensive Economic Dialogue” which was intended to lay out future cooperation plans.

In this way, Xi’s visit marks the beginning of a new era in China and US relations – one in which trade is negotiated in earnest rather than simply used as leverage.

The Dangers Of Striking Up A Friendship In Diplomacy: Trump’S China Policy As An Example

When it comes to the United States’ policy on China, it changes depending on how negotiations are going.

This became apparent in 2017 when President Trump met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago and declared him to be a friend of his.

Despite warnings from members of the National Security Council criticizing this approach, Trump chose to take it anyway.

However, as soon as negotiations began to go south again, Trump seemed to forget that the two leaders were friends and turned to those who wanted more aggressive actions such as tariffs.

Those who disagreed with this move, like Secretary of State Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Mattis, were often brushed aside.

The administration’s hawks pushed for an investigation known as a 301 investigation in order to prove that Chinese business practices posed a direct threat to national security which could lead them to introduce trade tariffs – something they eventually did when it was clear that no deal would be made.

Xi understood all too well how the US policy on China changed depending on trade negotiations.

He knew what he had to do in order for the American president to deescalate the tensions: make just one simple gesture of friendship towards him and things would cool off!

How The Plight Of China’S Uyghurs Revealed The Realities Of Human Rights Abuses In The Country

Human Rights

In recent years, the world has been getting a better understanding of the human rights abuses occurring in China.

This is largely due to courageous people who have spoken out on their experiences and put a spotlight on them.

In 2018 and 2019, information was increasingly becoming available about how China was restricting cultural and religious practices for minorities in both Tibet and Xinjiang regions; Han Chinese were being present in these regions to establish a dominant culture more aligned with the government’s vision.

Additionally, internment camps where Uyghurs deemed as threats were kept away from their families and monitored closely were also brought to light.

The issue of human rights violations continued to remain off-limits when US officials visited China; President Trump also reportedly stated to Xi Jinping during the G20 summit in Osaka in 2019 that building internment camps was “exactly the right thing to do.” However, at this time, due partly to Vera Zhou’s story of her experience with an internment camp after travelling to Xinjiang to visit her parents, reports of what happened behind the walls of these camps began receiving more attention.

As more people learned about these violations and stories such as Vera Zhou’s became known, bipartisan support started forming in Washington D.C., creating pressure for action inside the administration.

China’S Mission For Global Influence: The Communist Party’S United Front Work Department

China has been diligently working towards expanding its global influence for years and it is clear that they have a well-organized system in place to do so.

This system ranges from their takeover of fifteen different UN organizations, such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) where Taiwan was no longer welcome at its annual assemblies, to their hacking of ICAO’s servers and likely data theft.

Chinese president Jim Kim has also proved to be a convenient partner in helping China implement its business interests, particularly with the Belt and Road Initiative which will give them control over numerous countries across the globe.

The United Front Work Department, a relic from Chairman Mao’s era, has succeeded in introducing Chinese Communist principles around the world, with efforts aimed at promoting division as seen in Australia and infiltrating universities through Confucius Institutes.

It is only recently that the FBI started to take notice of these activities, alerting academics on the need to protect their research from Beijing’s invasions.

However, even with this warning there are still 60 Confucius Institutes operating in the US alone.

All this combined proves that China has an extremely powerful mechanism for creating international impact by attempting to penetrate many facets of society around the world.

China’S Growing Power And Influence In 2019 Showed That It Could No Longer Be Ignored

Throughout 2019, China’s aggressive measures were becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.

American politicians such as Vice President Mike Pence began speaking out against the country’s activities both at home and abroad.

This includes their United Work Front activities, which included planting anti-Trump articles in some newspapers.

With this tension in the air, the US Justice Department arrested Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinese tech giant Huawei for alleged violations of international sanctions.

As a result, Huawei was put on restricted access for a time – with President Trump negotiating it as part of his US-China trade deal.

The elephant in the room during that Osaka G20 summit in July 2019 were the protests in Hong Kong against tightening Chinese control over the region’s autonomy.

Despite significant pressure though, Trump failed to take any stance against China while there was hope for the continued negotiations for a trade deal.

Trump even gave companies permission again to do business with Huawei – ignoring hardliners within his own administration who were shocked by his decision.

China’S Suppression Of Information During The Covid-19 Pandemic Exposes Its Flawed Model For Controlling The Narrative

Covid-19 Pandemic

From the second the US National Security Council learned about the mysterious Chinese flu, it was obvious that the Chinese Communist Party had not been forthcoming in sharing information.

The Chinese delegation had returned from the signing of the Phase One trade deal without saying a word about this new illness.

This, combined with China’s efforts to quickly clear and clean the seafood market thought to have possibly been a source of the virus, spoke volumes about Beijing’s willingness to suppress knowledge about what was going on in Wuhan – even before anyone knew exactly what it was.

The Chinese government then attempted to spin their own narrative: that COVID-19 had originated at that same seafood market and nowhere else.

Even more troubling, however, was that researchers at a Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) only a few miles away were actively researching and experimenting with different coronavirus variants – including one that was only four percent genetically different than COVID-19 itself.

And when scientists tried to raise awareness around these experiments (known as gain-of-function studies), they were quickly silenced by Beijing’s censorship measures.

These facts are all too familiar for anyone who’s watched how Beijing disseminates or suppresses information over the years – something made especially evident during Trump’s presidency when he parroted early messages meant downplaying the danger of COVID-19 for months afterwards.

Us Investors Keep The Us-China Relationship Complex Despite Trump’S Aggressive Hardliner Stance

Dealing with China has become increasingly complex for the US due to the deep financial ties between them.

The ever growing flow of money from America to China continues unchecked – whether it is for business, investments in Chinese companies or funds going towards military spending and weapons.

Unfortunately, attempts by Congressional representatives and the Trump administration alike to restrict or discourage the investment of American money into Chinese businesses has yet to materialize.

Pushed by MSCI – one of the world’s biggest index provider customers being a US retirement fund, which covers five million federal employees – America remains pivotal in helping support massive amounts of Chinese based entities, like Hikvision whose technology still helps send Uyghurs into internment camps and Aviation Industry Corporation of China who produces missiles for Beijing’s air force.

Making matters more difficult is the fact that Chinese government holds a staggering three trillion dollars worth of US investment dollars – vital to Beijing’s political stability.

As long as China keeps receiving this type of money, there are fears that upcoming American administrations could be left without much leverage when attempting their own negotiations with Beijing.

Wrap Up

The final takeaway from “Chaos Under Heaven” is that US foreign policy towards China has been a chaotic affair.

This is mainly due to the conflicting interests among certain sectors, ranging from Wall Street investors wanting a friendly approach to those concerned with China’s increasing brazenness in intellectual property theft and human rights violations.

During the Trump administration, these two perspectives were continually at odds, while President Trump simultaneously made an effort to foster amicable ties with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Unfortunately, no major progress was made in reaching a comprehensive trade agreement between Washington and Beijing, meaning that China will continue to exercise more power around the globe.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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