RAS Book Club

Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power

Discussion Leader: Raymond Kolter

For many years after its reform and opening in 1978, China maintained an attitude of false modesty about its ambitions. That role, reports Howard French, has been set aside. China has asserted its place among the global heavyweights, revealing its plans for pan-Asian dominance by building its navy, increasing territorial claims to areas like the South China Sea, and diplomatically bullying smaller players. Underlying this attitude is a strain of thinking that casts China’s present-day actions in decidedly historical terms, as the path to restoring the dynastic glory of the past. If we understand how that historical identity relates to current actions, in ways ideological, philosophical, and even legal, we can learn to forecast just what kind of global power China stands to become–and to interact wisely with a future peer.

Steeped in deeply researched history as well as on-the-ground reporting, this is French at his revelatory best.

Howard French is a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Prior to joining the Columbia faculty in 2008, he was a reporter and senior writer for The New York Times, where he worked as a foreign correspondent for more than two decades. During this time, French served as the paper’s bureau chief in Shanghai, Tokyo, Abidjan and Miami (covering Central America and the Caribbean). French’s documentary photography has been featured in solo and group exhibitions on four continents, and collected by the Mildred Lane Kemper Museum in St. Louis.

Discussion leader Dr. Raymond Kolter is professor of international relations at Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) and scholar of Chinese politics and diplomacy at Fudan University.

*Please note that this is a book discussion, not a talk. The author will not be present.*

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