The most populous country in the world with a 22,117 kilometer border also has the largest number of neighbors. Professor Eric Hyer has a rich understanding of this, as well as its implications on China’s international relations, territorial conflicts, and regional politics. He is a professor of Political Science at BYU, a recent international affairs fellow for the Council on Foreign Relations, and the coordinator for the Kennedy Center’s Asian Studies program. He has also taught courses in Beijing as a Fulbright Scholar, including international relations, US foreign policy, and US–China foreign relations.
His new book, The Pragmatic Dragon: China’s Grand Strategy and Boundary Settlements, takes a dive into China’s foreign policy over the decades, analyzing China’s relationship with India, Myanmar, Russia, and other neighbors. Hyer finds that in the 1960s, China actually pursued a peaceful and diplomatic approach to settle boundary disputes and ease growing tensions with the Soviet Union, the United States, and India. This peaceful approach of the past may be the key to China’s modern disputes in the South and East China Seas.
As Hyer says, “While researching the book, I visited most all of China’s border regions to see for myself what was happening along China’s border. My book is an effort to use international relations theory to explain the patterns we see in China’s boundary disputes and settlements.”
And it’s not just the book. His website, China Boundaries, provides articles, maps, and even supplementary short videos—all based off of The Pragmatic Dragon and Hyer’s extensive research. Hyer himself narrates the videos as a more visual guide to China’s modern relations.