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The China Challenge

Shaping the Choices of a Rising Power

Thomas J. Christensen (Author, Princeton University)

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“A standout . . . a balanced, informative, and highly intelligent guide to dealing with China.”—Fareed Zakaria

Many see China as a rival superpower to the United States and imagine the country’s rise to be a threat to U.S. leadership in Asia and beyond. Thomas J. Christensen argues against this zero-sum vision. Instead, he describes a new paradigm in which the real challenge lies in dissuading China from regional aggression while encouraging the country to contribute to the global order. Drawing on decades of scholarship and experience as a senior diplomat, Christensen offers a compelling new assessment of U.S.-China relations that is essential reading for anyone interested in the future of the globalized world.

The China Challenge shows why China is nowhere near powerful enough to be considered a global “peer competitor” of the United States, but it is already strong enough to destabilize East Asia and to influence economic and political affairs worldwide. Despite China’s impressive achievements, the Chinese Communist Party faces enormous challenges. Christensen shows how nationalism and the threat of domestic instability influence the party’s decisions on issues like maritime sovereignty disputes, global financial management, control of the Internet, climate change, and policies toward Taiwan and Hong Kong.

China benefits enormously from the current global order and has no intention of overthrowing it; but that is not enough. China’s active cooperation is essential to global governance. Never before has a developing country like China been asked to contribute so much to ensure international stability. If China obstructs international efforts to confront nuclear proliferation, civil conflicts, financial instability, and climate change, those efforts will falter, but even if China merely declines to support such efforts, the problems will grow vastly more complicated.

Analyzing U.S.-China policy since the end of the Cold War, Christensen articulates a balanced strategic approach that explains why we should aim not to block China’s rise but rather to help shape its choices so as to deter regional aggression and encourage China’s active participation in international initiatives that benefit both nations.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • June 2016
  • ISBN 978-0-393-35299-3
  • 5.6 × 8.3 in / 400 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverThe China Challenge: Shaping the Choices of a Rising Power

    Hardcover

Endorsements & Reviews

“A model of judicious analysis: Carefully deconstructing the economic, military and diplomatic balances between the United States and China, [Christensen] reveals the magnitude of the latter’s challenge without inflating it.” — Ali Wyne, Washington Post

“Can a rising power and an established power cooperate toward mutually beneficial aims? The China Challenge presents a thoughtful analysis of this question through the lens of recent developments in U.S.-China relations.” — Henry A. Kissinger

“There is no one I would rather read on China than Tom Christensen. He has the rare ability to transcend the conventional either/or debates about China and to see the country simultaneously as a power with the potential to disrupt global politics in many negative ways and as a country that the United States must engage as a partner in solving global problems. He also has a deep and much needed understanding of how Chinese domestic politics shape Chinese foreign policy. If you read only one book on China, make it The China Challenge.” — Anne-Marie Slaughter, president, New America Foundation

“The rise of China is one of the prime challenges for American foreign policy. Thomas Christensen uses his first rate credentials both as a scholar and a practitioner to give a clear and compelling answer to this challenge.” — Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Harvard University, and former Assistant Secretary of Defense

“Christensen is one of the world’s leading China experts, an experienced senior policymaker, and a top-notch international relations theorist. The China Challenge is outstanding, a must-read for anybody interested in China, American foreign policy, or global affairs more generally.” — Gideon Rose, editor, Foreign Affairs

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