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China: Fragile Superpower

How China's Internal Politics Could Derail Its Peaceful Rise

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 afraid of its own citizens, and this fear motivates many of their decisions when dealing with the U.S. and other 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 this country a minefield.                     —Oxford University Press

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Susan L. Shirk
Oxford University Press
April 2007
Author

Susan Shirk is the chair of the 21st Century China Program and Ho Miu Lam Professor of China and Pacific Relations at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS) at University of California, San Diego. She also is director emeritus of the University of California, Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC) and chair of the IGCC International Advisory Board.

From 1997-2000, Shirk served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs, with responsibility for China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mongolia.