Jeffrey Wasserstrom is Chancellor’s Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine.  His most recent books, both published in 2016, are, as author, Eight Juxtapositions: China through Imperfect Analogies from Mark Twain to Manchukuo (Penguin), and, as editor, The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China (Oxford).  An Associate Fellow of the Asia Society who belongs to and has served on the Board of Directors of the National Committee on United States-China Relations, he is Editor of The Journal of Asian Studies, Advising Editor for Asia for The Los Angeles Review of Books, and a member of Dissent magazine’s Editorial Board. His commentaries and reviews have appeared in many general interest periodicals, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Internazionale, TIME, Slate, The American Scholar, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Nation, and The Times Literary Supplement. He is currently writing a book about the Boxer Uprising and the invasion by armies marching under eight different flags that crushed it, while also collaborating with Maura Cunningham on a third edition of the primer China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know.

Last Updated: September 4, 2016

Viewpoint

02.07.17

Can the New U.S. Ambassador to China See Xi Jinping for Who He Really Is?

Jeffrey Wasserstrom
When the Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds confirmation hearings on Terry Branstad’s nomination to be Ambassador to China, the Iowa Governor is sure to be asked about the positions of the president who nominated him. I hope, though, that...

Books

01.04.17

The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China

Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom
This lavishly illustrated volume explores the history of China during a period of dramatic shifts and surprising transformations, from the founding of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) through to the present day.The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China promises to be essential reading for anyone who wants to understand this rising superpower on the verge of what promises to be the “Chinese century,” introducing readers to important but often overlooked events in China’s past, such as the bloody Taiping Civil War (1850-1864), which had a death toll far higher than the roughly contemporaneous American Civil War. It also helps readers see more familiar landmarks in Chinese history in new ways, such as the Opium War (1839-1842), the Boxer Uprising of 1900, the rise to power of the Chinese Communist Party in 1949, and the Tiananmen protests and Beijing Massacre of 1989.This is one of the first major efforts—and in many ways the most ambitious to date—to come to terms with the broad sweep of modern Chinese history, taking readers from the origins of modern China right up through the dramatic events of the last few years (the Beijing Games, the financial crisis, and China’s rise to global economic pre-eminence) which have so fundamentally altered Western views of China and China’s place in the world. —Oxford University Press{chop}

Conversation

10.06.16

Is the Growing Pessimism About China Warranted?

David Shambaugh, David M. Lampton & more from Washington Quarterly
There are few more consequential questions in world affairs than China’s uncertain future trajectory. Assumptions of a reformist China integrated into the international community have given way in recent years to serious concerns about the nation’s...

Conversation

09.07.16

The Hong Kong Election: What Message Does it Send Beijing?

David Schlesinger, Melissa Chan & more
On September 4, Hong Kong elected a batch of its youngest and most pro-democratic lawmakers yet. Six new legislators, all under 40, won on platforms that called for Hong Kongers to decide their own fate. The youngest is 23-year-old Nathan Law, a...

Conversation

08.18.16

What Would China Look Like Today Had Zhao Ziyang Survived?

Julian B. Gewirtz, David Shambaugh & more
Almost 500 previously unpublished documents about Zhao Ziyang, the bold reformer who served as China’s premier (1980-1987) and Communist Party general secretary (1987-1989), were smuggled out of China and published in late July by the Chinese...

Excerpts

03.22.16

Beyond ‘Chicken or Beef’ Choices in China Debates

Jeffrey Wasserstrom
Growing up in California with no special interest in China, one of the few things I associated with the big country across the Pacific was mix-and-match meal creation. On airplanes and in school cafeterias, you just had “chicken or beef” choices,...

Culture

09.09.15

The Met Goes to China

Jeffrey Wasserstrom
In July, while in New York, I toured The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s much buzzed about “China: Through the Looking Glass,” a visually stunning multimedia exhibit that showcases the varied ways that Western fashion designers have been inspired by...

Conversation

03.18.15

Dark Days for Women in China?

Rebecca E. Karl, Leta Hong Fincher & more
With China’s recent criminal detention of five feminist activists, gender inequality in China is back in the spotlight. What does a crackdown on Chinese women fighting for equal representation say about the current state of the nation’s political...

Conversation

06.23.14

The Debate Over Confucius Institutes

Robert Kapp, Jeffrey Wasserstrom & more
Last week, the American Association of University Professors joined a growing chorus of voices calling on North American universities to rethink their relationship with Confucius Institutes, the state-sponsored Chinese-language programs...

Sinica Podcast

04.14.14

Live at the Association for Asian Studies

Kaiser Kuo, Jeffrey Wasserstrom & more from Sinica Podcast
This week, Sinica presents a special live recording from the annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) which convened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Regular listeners, please note that the audio quality here isn’t up to our usual...

Conversation

09.05.13

To Reform or Not Reform?—Echoes of the Late Qing Dynasty

Orville Schell, John Delury & more
Orville Schell:It is true that China is no longer beset by threats of foreign incursion nor is it a laggard in the world of economic development and trade. But being there and being steeped in an atmosphere of seemingly endless political and...

Viewpoint

01.13.13

Is Xi Jinping a Reformer? It’s Much Too Early to Tell

Rachel Beitarie & Jeffrey Wasserstrom
Last weekend, Nicholas Kristof wrote in the pages of The New York Times that he feels moderately confident China will experience resurgent economic reform and probably political reform as well under the leadership of recently installed Communist...

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Fear of China is back. But it's a nebulous fear, and this creates both an opportunity and an obstacle for the male and female anti-heroes of Christopher Buckley's latest look at the surreal world of lobbyist, the uneven but occasionally hilarious "They Eat Puppies, Don't They?" Both characters are eager to whip up anxiety...

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08.31.12

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07.05.12

I first went to China in 1994, after finishing two years of graduate school at Oxford. I had studied English language and literature, which I enjoyed, but I realized that I wanted to do something different with my career. I knew that I wanted to write but I wasn’t sure how or where. And I had long considered joining the Peace Corps — I first...

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New York Times
06.19.12

Two months ago at the London Book Fair, where China was this year’s “guest of honor,” Ma Jian, the exiled author of the Tiananmen-era novel “Beijing Coma,” inked a red X across his face in an emotional protest against Chinese censorship. It may be a sign of the times that while drawing attention from the Western press, the move went almost...

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New York Times
06.18.12

Two months ago at the London Book Fair, where China was this year’s “guest of honor,” Ma Jian, the exiled author of the Tiananmen-era novel “Beijing Coma,” inked a red X across his face in an emotional protest against Chinese censorship. It may be a sign of the times that while drawing attention from the Western press, the move went almost...

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