China: Fragile Superpower

China: Fragile Superpower

Paperback

By (author) Susan L. Shirk

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 336 pages
  • Dimensions: 154mm x 234mm x 22mm | 460g
  • Publication date: 15 August 2008
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0195373197
  • ISBN 13: 9780195373196
  • Illustrations note: halftones
  • Sales rank: 115,102

Product description

Once a sleeping giant, China today is the world's fastest growing economy-the leading manufacturer of cell phones, laptop computers, and digital cameras-a dramatic turn-around that alarms many Westerners. But in China: Fragile Superpower, Susan L. Shirk opens up the black box of Chinese politics and finds that the real danger lies elsewhere-not in China's astonishing growth, but in the deep insecurity of its leaders. China's leaders face a troubling paradox: the more developed and prosperous the country becomes, the more insecure and threatened they feel. Shirk, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State responsible for China, knows many of today's Chinese rulers personally and has studied them for three decades. She offers invaluable insight into how they think-and what they fear. In this revealing book, readers see the world through the eyes of men like President Hu Jintao and former President Jiang Zemin. We discover a fragile communist regime desperate to survive in a society turned upside down by miraculous economic growth and a stunning new openness to the greater world. Indeed, ever since the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square and the fall of communism in the Soviet Union, Chinese leaders have been haunted by the fear that their days in power are numbered. Theirs is a regime afraid of its own citizens, and this fear motivates many of their decisions when dealing with the U.S. and other foreign nations. In particular, the fervent nationalism of the Chinese people, combined with their passionate resentment of Japan and attachment to Taiwan, have made relations with these two regions a minefield. It is here, Shirk concludes, in the tangled interactions between Japan, Taiwan, China, and the United States, that the greatest danger lies. Shirk argues that rising powers such as China tend to provoke wars in large part because other countries mishandle them. Unless we understand China's brittle internal politics and the fears that motivate its leaders, we face the very real possibility of avoidable conflict with China. This book provides that understanding.

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Author information

Susan L. Shirk, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State responsible for U.S. relations with China, is Director of the University of California's Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, and she is a professor at UC-San Diego's Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. A leading authority on China, she has been visiting that country since 1971, meeting with top Chinese officials, and has written numerous books and articles on this subject, including pieces that have appeared in The Washington Post, Financial Times, and Wall Street Journal.

Review quote

"One of the best books I read on China."--Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times"Ms. Shirk's magisterial book gazes down on China from above."--The Economist"Revelatory...Shirk has written an important book at an important moment, with the Beijing Olympics approaching and a new Chinese product scandal breaking practically every week. China: Fragile Superpower should change our assessment of China's leadership, which is a lot less stable than many of us thought."-Washington Post Book World"In her extremely convincing book, she shows that there is another emotional side which, driven by unresolved internal tensions, could still push China into a military confrontation."--Financial Times"Shirk's depth of knowledge about China - including personal acquaintance with many of its leaders - makes this book a valuable read."--Christian Science Monitor"Now more than ever we need a realistic approach for dealing with China's rising power. Susan Shirk has an insider's grasp of China's politics and a firm understanding of what makes its leaders tick. China: Fragile Superpower is an important and necessary book."--Brent Scowcroft, former U.S. National Security Advisor"Susan Shirk's lively and perceptive book examines the constraints on Chinese foreign policy in an era of rapid socio-economic change.... Shirk brings a wealth of experience as an astute observer of Chinese politics and as a practitioner of track I and II diplomacy toward China to illuminate the relationship between domestic legitimacy dilemmas and foreign security dilemmas."-- Alastair Iain Johnston, The Laine Professor of China in World Affairs, Harvard"Although other problems dominate the news today, a rising China presents America's greatest long-term challenge. Susan Shirk's excellent book argues compellingly that it also poses the greatest challenge to China's leaders. How they meet this challenge affects not only China, but also the U.S. and, indeed, the wo

Table of contents

1 Strong Abroad but Fragile at Home ; 2 China's Economic Miracle ; 3 Domestic Threats ; 4 The Echo Chamber of Nationalism: Media and the Internet ; 5 The Responsible Power ; 6 Japan: "When the Chinese People Get Angry, the Result is Always Big Trouble ; 7 Taiwan: A Question of Regime Survival ; 8 The United States: External Troubles Can Become Internal Troubles ; 9 China's Weakness, America's Danger