This one-week course is a seminar in Chinese grand strategy and foreign policy. Students will explore major continuities and discontinuities in China’s approach to the modern world from the height of the Qing Empire through 2016 (a period roughly equivalent to the existence of the United States). And they will examine how current Chinese strategy seeks to shape its future.
As the People’s Republic of China rises to preeminence in word affairs, it is critical that U.S. strategists develop a deeper understanding of how China’s strategy and statecraft has developed in the modern period. What makes Chinese strategy unique is the fact that China is both a civilization and a nation-state – or “a civilization pretending to be a nation-state,” as sinologist Lucian Pye has described it, and that duality shapes its international relations.
Throughout China’s strategic history, it has faced critical turning points. Given our time constraints, the course will begin with late Qing China, when the Middle Kingdom was at the height of its power and had organized its foreign relations into what is now commonly referred to as the “Chinese world order.” Students will then look at the attempts of the new Chinese nation-state to “reunify” the Qing borders and to contend with a succession of tectonic shifts in world affairs (1911 to 1949). Next, students will examine the period of “Maoist” foreign policy (1949 to Mao’s death). Finally, students will consider the period of “reform and opening,” from 1978 to the present, and discuss whether China’s grand strategy faces a new turning point as the global order is undergoing severe strain.
The course will consist of two sessions per day. Each morning, students will participate in a seminar led by China expert Daniel Blumenthal. Each afternoon, they will hear from a leading scholar or practitioner on that individual’s area of expertise. Past guest speakers have included Andrew May (Office of Net Assessment, Department of Defense), Ely Ratner (Council on Foreign Relations), and Derek Scissors (American Enterprise Institute), among others.
DOWNLOAD THE FULL SYLLABUSDownload
PREVIEW THE SYLLABUS BY WEEK/SESSION
- Dan Blumenthal, “Xi’s Chinese Dream: The Road to Rejuvenation,” Three Chinas, manuscript
- Dan Blumenthal and Derek Scissors, “China’s Great Stagnation,” The National Interest, October 2016
- Christopher Ford, “Realpolitik with Chinese Characteristics: Chinese Strategic Culture and the Modern Communist Party-State,” Strategic Asia 2016–17: Understanding Strategic Cultures in the Asia-Pacific (Washington, DC: The National Bureau of Asian Research, 2016)
- Dan Blumenthal, “The Qing Meet the Westphalians,” Three Chinas, manuscript
- Dan Blumenthal, “Republican China and Modern Diplomacy,” Three Chinas, manuscript
- Odd Arne Westad, “Chapter 2: Imperialisms,” Restless Empire: China and the World Since 1750, 53–86
- William C. Kirby, “The Internationalization of China: Foreign Relations at Home and Abroad in the Republican Era,” The China Quarterly, no. 150 (June 1997), p. 433–58
- Paul Lococo Jr., “The Qing Empire,” from David Graff, A Military History of China, p. 115–34
- Chen Jian, “Introduction,” Mao’s China and the Cold War, p. 1–16
- Christopher Ford, “Chapter 13: Mao and the Middle Kingdom,” Mind of an Empire: China’s History and Modern Foreign Relations, p. 189–216
- Henry Kissinger, “Chapter 4: Mao’s Continuous Revolution,” On China, p. 91–112
- Margaret MacMillan, “Chapter 9: The Polar Bear,” Nixon and Mao: The Week that Changed the World, p. 124–45
- Excerpts from Ezra F. Vogel, Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China
- “Chapter 9: The Soviet-Vietnamese Threat, 1978–1979,” p. 266–93
- “Chapter 18: The Military: Preparing for Modernization,” 523–52
- Excerpts from Henry Kissinger, On China
- “Chapter 13: ‘Touching the Tiger’s Buttocks,’” p. 340–76
- “Chapter 17: A Roller Coaster Ride Toward Another Reconciliation: The Jiang Zemin Era,” p. 447–86
- Michael Pillsbury, “The Sixteen Fears: China’s Strategic Psychology,” Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, October–November 2012
- Ian Johnson, “Chapter 2: Ritual: The Lost Middle,” Souls of China
- Daniel Hartnett, “The ‘New Historic Missions’: Reflections on Hu Jintao’s Military Legacy,” Assessing the People’s Liberation Army in the Hu Jintao Era, Strategic Studies Institute and US Army War College Press, April 2014
- Taylor Fravel, “China’s Strategy in the South China Sea,” Contemporary Southeast Asia 33:3 (2011), p. 292–319
- Thomas J. Christensen, Excerpt from The China Challenge, p. 251–65
- Dan Blumenthal, “China, the United States, and the Geopolitics of Energy,” Too Much Energy? Asia at 2030, AEI, February 2015
Other courses you might be interested in
Paul Carrese is the founding Director of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University, having served for 19 years as professor of political science at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he co-founded and served as director of the Academy’s great-books honors program.
Vance Serchuk is executive director of the KKR Global Institute. Prior to joining KKR, Mr. Serchuk served for six years as the senior national security advisor to Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut).
Christopher Griffin is a national security expert, specializing in U.S. foreign and defense policy toward the Asia-Pacific. He served as legislative director to Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, advising the senator on the full range of legislative proposals and key votes.
Hugh Liebert is assistant professor of American politics, policy, and strategy in the department of social sciences at the United States Military Academy. His primary areas of interest are Greek and Roman political thought and American politics. He is the author of Plutarch’s Politics: Between City and Empire.
Diana J. Schaub is professor of political science at Loyola University Maryland and a member of the Hoover Institution’s task force on The Virtues of a Free Society. She is the author of Erotic Liberalism: Women and Revolution in Montesquieu’s “Persian Letters”, along with a number of book chapters and articles in the fields of political philosophy and American political thought.