The China Challenge: Shaping the Choices of a Rising Power



Thomas J. Christensen, Princeton University

Date and Time

January 11, 2016 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM


Open to the public.

No RSVP required


William J. Perry Conference Room
Encina Hall, Second Floor, Central, C231
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305

- Please note that this Social Science Seminar is held in a Science Seminar time slot - 

Abstract: Many see China as a rival superpower to the U.S. and imagine the country’s rise to be a threat to U.S. leadership in Asia and beyond. Arguing against this zero-sum vision, The China Challenge 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. 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, cliate change, and policies toward Taiwan and Hong Kong. China’s active cooperation is essential to global governance. 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.  Given U.S.-China policy since the end of the Cold War, a balanced strategic approach that does not block China’s rise, but rather shapes its choices so as to deter regional aggression and encourage China’s active participation in international initiatives would be a benefit to both nations.


About the Speaker: Thomas J. Christensen is William P. Boswell Professor of World Politics of Peace and War and Director of the China and the World Program at Princeton University. From 2006-2008 he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs with responsibility for relations with China, Taiwan, and Mongolia. His research and teaching focus on China’s foreign relations, the international relations of East Asia, and international security. Before arriving at Princeton in 2003, he taught at Cornell University and MIT. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University. Professor Christensen has served on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and as co-editor of the International History and Politics series at Princeton University Press. He is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Non-Resident Senior Scholar at the Brookings Institution. In 2002 he was presented with a Distinguished Public Service Award by the United States Department of State.

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