For three decades after Mao’s death in 1976, China’s leaders adopted a restrained approach to foreign policy. They determined that any threat to their power, and that of the Chinese Communist Party, came not from abroad but from within. To facilitate the country’s inexorable economic ascendence and to prevent a backlash, the Chinese leaders reassured the outside world that China’s ascension to power would be peaceful.
But things changed after the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 and when Xi Jinping took power in 2012. China went from fragile superpower to global heavyweight, threatening Taiwan as well as its neighbours in the South China Sea, tightening its grip on Hong Kong, and openly challenging the United States for preeminence not just economically and technologically but militarily. China began to overreach. Combining her decades of research and diplomatic experience, Susan Shirk, one of the world’s most prominent experts on Chinese politics, opens the black box of China’s political system and looks at what derailed its peaceful rise.
In her new book Overreach: How China Derailed its Peaceful Rise (Oxford University Press, 2022), Shirk provides a sobering and illuminating account of China’s rise in world politics and how the world has embroiled into a new Cold War following the US-China competition.
Research Professor and Chair of the 21st Century China Center, School of Global Policy and Strategy, UC San Diego
President and Founder, CGC
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