1st Edition

Geopolitics and China's Patronage Strategy The Wary Patron, the Autonomous Client, and the Vietnam War

By Dalton Lin Copyright 2025
    312 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book highlights how resource constraints and client agency impact China’s patronage policy in their pursuit of regional geopolitical power.

    By combining for the first time the limit of great-power patrons’ resources and the agency of client countries, this book accentuates that the costs and uncertainty require China to be a wary patron who must adjust its patronage priorities in order to deal with geopolitical competition. Using China’s patronage delivery to North Vietnam during the fierce and geopolitically competitive period of the Vietnam War, the book underscores that neighbouring countries’ domestic political dynamics which are out of Beijing’s control, drive costs and uncertainty, thus constraining Beijing’s choices.

    Including a wealth of historical materials, including minutes of Chinese decision-makers’ conversations with foreign counterparts, selections of Chinese leaders’ manuscripts, chronologies of their diplomatic, economic, and military activities, senior Chinese officials’ memoirs and biographies, and declassified Chinese official documents, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of Chinese politics, history and international relations.

    1.Introduction.  2.Geopolitics, Statecraft, and Patronage Transfers.  3.A Theory of Patronage Transfers in Geopolitical Competition.  4.Breaking Encirclement: China’s Patronage Transfers Amid Intense Rivalry with the United States, 1964-1966.  5.Pounding with Two Fists: China’s Patronage Transfers Amid Two-Pronged Intense Geopolitical Rivalries, 1967-1970.  6.Romantic Triangle: China’s Patronage Transfers Amid the Sino-US Rapprochement, 1971-1973.  7.Conclusion.


    Dalton Lin is an Assistant Professor at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology. Before joining Georgia Tech, he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University. His articles have appeared in The China Quarterly, Orbis, and Survival. He founded the public-service page Taiwan Security Issues (https://linkedin.com/company/TSIssues).

    Dalton Lin’s carefully researched book on Beijing’s support for Vietnam during the Cold War demonstrates that China’s strategic patronage of neighboring countries long predates Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative.  This book is an important contribution to our understanding of China’s foreign relations and the Cold War in Asia.

    Thomas J. Christensen
    James T. Shotwell Professor of International Relations
    Columbia University