In 2005, veteran diplomat and Asia analyst Jeffrey Bader met for the first time with the then-junior U.S. senator from Illinois. When Barack Obama entered the White House a few years later, Bader was named the senior director for East Asian affairs on the National Security Council, becoming one of a handful of advisers responsible for formulating and implementing the administration's policy regarding that key region. For obvious reasons—a booming economy, expanding military power, and increasing influence over the region—the looming impact of a rising China dominated their efforts.
Obama's original intent was to extend U.S. influence and presence in East Asia, which he felt had been neglected by a Bush administration fixated on the Middle East, particularly Iraq, and the war on terror. China's rise, particularly its military buildup, was heightening anxiety among its neighbors, including key U.S. allies Japan and South Korea. Bader explains the administration's efforts to develop stable relations with China while improving relationships with key partners worried about Beijing's new assertiveness.
In Obama and China's Rise, Bader reveals what he did, discusses what he saw, and interprets what it meant—first during the Obama campaign, and then for the administration. The result is an illuminating backstage view of the formulation and execution of American foreign policy as well as a candid assessment of both. Bader combines insightful and authoritative foreign policy analysis with a revealing and humanizing narrative of his own personal journey.
Jeffrey A. Bader is the John C. Whitehead Senior Fellow for International Diplomacy with the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution. He returned to Brookings after serving in the Obama administration from January 2009 to April 2011 as senior director for East Asian affairs on the National Security Council. Prior to joining the Obama team, he was a senior fellow in Foreign Policy at Brookings, where he also served as the first director of the Thornton Center.
From abroad, we often see China as a caricature: a nation of pragmatic plutocrats and ruthlessly dedicated students destined to rule the global economy-or an addled Goliath, riddled with corruption and on the edge of stagnation. What we don't see is how both powerful and ordinary people are remaking their lives as their country dramatically changes.
As the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos was on the ground in China for years, witness to profound political, economic, and cultural upheaval. In Age of Ambition, he describes the greatest collision taking place in that country: the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party's struggle to retain control. He asks probing questions: Why does a government with more success lifting people from poverty than any civilization in history choose to put strict restraints on freedom of expression? Why do millions of young Chinese professionals-fluent in English and devoted to Western pop culture-consider themselves "angry youth," dedicated to resisting the West's influence? How are Chinese from all strata finding meaning after two decades of the relentless pursuit of wealth?
Writing with great narrative verve and a keen sense of irony, Osnos follows the moving stories of everyday people and reveals life in the new China to be a battleground between aspiration and authoritarianism, in which only one can prevail.
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