China: Fragile Superpower

Overview

Once a sleeping giant, China today is the world's fastest growing economy, a turn-around so dramatic, and with repercussions so wide-ranging, that it has dazzled, bewildered, and alarmed many Westerners. As Susan L. Shirk's China: Fragile Superpower reveals, the real danger lies not in China's astonishing growth but in the deep insecurity of its leaders. Their anxious reactions to the violent protests in Tibet and the horrific Sichuan earthquake on the eve of the Olympics high-light the troubling paradox they ...
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Overview

Once a sleeping giant, China today is the world's fastest growing economy, a turn-around so dramatic, and with repercussions so wide-ranging, that it has dazzled, bewildered, and alarmed many Westerners. As Susan L. Shirk's China: Fragile Superpower reveals, the real danger lies not in China's astonishing growth but in the deep insecurity of its leaders. Their anxious reactions to the violent protests in Tibet and the horrific Sichuan earthquake on the eve of the Olympics high-light the troubling paradox they face: 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. Readers of this book will see the world through the eyes of men like President Hu Jintao and former President Jiang Zemin. We discover a regime desperate to survive in a society turned upside down by astonishing economic growth and a startling openness to the outside world. China's leaders closely track public opinion on the Internet and constantly worry that citizens could turn against them. The tragic earthquake in Sichuan Province demanded unprecedented governmental transparency and inspired civic mobilization not seen since the events in Tiananmen Square-but are China's leaders confident enough to sustain this openness or will they revert to control? In the midst of this tumultuous time, China: Fragile Superpower offers an illuminating and sure-footed guide to the country whose destiny is now inextricably tied up with our own.

Aboutthe Author:
Susan L. Shirk is Director of the University of California's Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, and Professor at UC-San Diego

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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 world."—William J. Perry, former U.S. Secretary of Defense

"In this eye-opening work, Susan Shirk details China's incredible economic progress while lifting the rug on its severe internal problems. She has injected a dose of realism into a distorted vision of China which has been promoted by gushing China watchers who focus on Shanghai's skyline."—James Lilley, Former American Ambassador to South Korea and China

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195373196
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 8/15/2008
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 590,244
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan L. Shirk is Director of the University of California's Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, and Professor at UC-San Diego's Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. A leading authority on China, she has has written numerous books and articles on this subject, including pieces that have appeared in Washington Post, Financial Times, and Wall Street Journal.

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Table of Contents


Preface     viii
Acknowledgments     xii
Strong Abroad but Fragile at Home     1
China's Economic Miracle     13
Domestic Threats     35
The Echo Chamber of Nationalism: Media and the Internet     79
The Responsible Power     105
Japan: "When the Chinese People Get Angry, the Result Is Always Big Trouble"     140
Taiwan: "A Question of Regime Survival"     181
The United States: "External Troubles Can Become Internal Troubles"     212
China's Weakness, America's Danger     255
Appendix: Chinese and Japanese Periodicals     271
Notes     273
Index     311
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