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Public Lecture, Book Signing & Reception with Susan Shirk

Susan Shirk is a member of the U.S.- China Institute's Board of Scholars. She will discuss her new book "China: Fragile Superpower" at UC San Diego.

May 30, 2007 12:00am

Wednesday, May 30, 2007, 4:00 p.m.
Location: UC San Diego, IR/PS Robinson Auditorium

China today is the world’s fastest growing economy, a dramatic turnaround that alarms many Westerners. But in China: Fragile Superpower, Susan Shirk finds that the real danger lies elsewhere, in the deep insecurity of China's leaders who face a troubling paradox: the more developed and prosperous the country becomes, the more insecure and threatened they feel. Shirk 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. 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 has made relations with Japan and Taiwan a minefield. 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 conflict with China. This book provides that understanding.

Biographical Note

Susan Shirk is director of the University of California system-wide Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation and professor of political science. Shirk first traveled to China in 1971 and has been doing research there ever since.

During 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.

She founded in 1993 and continues to lead the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue (NEACD), an unofficial “track-two” forum for discussions of security issues among defense and foreign ministry officials and academics from the United States, Japan, China, Russia and the Koreas.

Shirk’s publications include her books, How China Opened Its Door: The Political Success of the PRC’s Foreign Trade and Investment Reforms; The Political Logic of Economic Reform in China; and Competitive Comrades: Career Incentives and Student Strategies in China. Her latest book, China: Fragile Superpower, is published by Oxford University Press.

Shirk served as a member of the U.S. Defense Policy Board, the Board of Governors for the East-West Center (Hawaii), the Board of Trustees of the U.S.-Japan Foundation, and the Board of Directors of the National Committee on United States-China Relations. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and an emeritus member of the Aspen Strategy Group. As Senior Adviser to The Albright Group, Shirk advises private sector clients on China and East Asia.