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China: The Balance Sheet

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China: The Balance Sheet

What the World Needs to Know about the Emerging Superpower

Public Affairs,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Will the benefits of U.S. cooperation with China outweigh their conflicts? Internal issues in both countries may decide.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


This book is indispensable for anyone seeking solid information about China. No country has inspired more commentary, conflict and controversy, or given rise to more disparate and confusing predictions, projections and polemics. The authors - C. Fred Bergsten, Bates Gill, Nicholas R. Lardy and Derek Mitchell - focus on economic, political and security issues, carefully assessing the range of noteworthy opinions on each issue, and offering readers the data necessary to evaluate them. The authors do not attempt to make a case one way or the other. They provide an excellent, concise survey of contemporary thinking about China, with ample evidence for and against each viewpoint. getAbstract says that if you are only going to read one book on China, this should be it. If you are going to read several, start here.


Many Chinas

Speaking of China as a single entity is a bit misleading. Given so many perspectives, opinions and notions about what China is, should be or could become, there are many Chinas. This multiplicity holds within and beyond the borders of the People’s Republic. China is one thing to a successful entrepreneur in a major southwestern city and quite another to a poor farmer in the backward northwest. China means one thing to a corporate manager with a major retail chain that buys from Chinese factories, another to a high technology firm hoping to sell to China, and yet another to an engineer whose job has just been outsourced. For some, China is a land of unbounded economic opportunity. For others, it is a land of fearsome threat.

The same diversity holds with respect to politics and security. Some see China as a repressive nation of torture and totalitarianism; others see the promise of democracy. Some perceive China as having only a defensive military strategy and others regard it as a nation that is building a war machine. Its strength means stability and order to some, and danger to others. The stakes are high in the crucial relationship between the U.S. and...

About the Authors

C. Fred Bergsten directs the Institute for International Economics (IIE), a private, nonprofit, research institution, where Nicholas R. Lardy is a senior fellow. Bates Gill holds a chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a nonprofit, public policy organization, where Derek Mitchell is a senior fellow for Asia in the International Security Program. This book is the work of a joint task force from the IIE and the CSIS.

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