The Contest of the Century
The New Era of Competition with China--And How America Can Win
By Geoff Dyer
Alfred A. Knopf, Hardcover, 9780307960757, 308pp.
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
List Price: $26.95*
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From the former Financial Times Beijing bureau chief, a balanced and far-seeing analysis of the emerging competition between China and the United States that will dominate twenty-first-century world affairs—an inside account of Beijing’s quest for influence and an explanation of how America can come out on top.
The structure of global politics is shifting rapidly. After decades of rising, China has entered a new and critical phase where it seeks to turn its economic heft into global power. In this deeply informed book, Geoff Dyer makes a lucid and convincing argument that China and the United States are now embarking on a great power–style competition that will dominate the century. This contest will take place in every arena: from control of the seas, where China’s new navy is trying to ease the United States out of Asia and reassert its traditional leadership, to rewriting the rules of the global economy, with attempts to turn the renminbi into the predominant international currency, toppling the dominance of the U.S. dollar. And by investing billions to send its media groups overseas, Beijing hopes to shift the global debate about democracy and individual rights. Eyeing the high ground of international politics, China is taking the first steps in an ambitious global agenda.
Yet Dyer explains how China will struggle to unseat the United States. China’s new ambitions are provoking intense anxiety, especially in Asia, while America’s global influence has deep roots. If Washington can adjust to a world in which it is no longer dominant but still immensely powerful, it can withstand China’s challenge. With keen insight based on a deep local knowledge—offering the reader visions of coastal Chinese beauty pageants and secret submarine bases, lockstep Beijing military parades and the neon media screens of Xinhua exported to New York City’s Times Square—The Contest of the Century is essential reading at a time of great uncertainty about America’s future, a road map for retaining a central role in the world.
"Forward-looking . . . enjoy and learn from this engagingly written tour d’horizon of important issues . . . Dyer opens with a clear statement of his thesis, a straightforward one with good prospects for having a long shelf life. China’s rise will continue. . . Eminently sensible . . . A fluent writer who knows how to make the most of lively set pieces."
—Jeffrey Wasserstrom, The Financial Times
"Stellar . . . Mr. Dyer is optimistic that the U.S. will "win": that is, "retain its role at the center of international affairs." But he doesn't subscribe to unwarranted zero-sum logic."
—Ali Wyne, The Wall Street Journal
"Assessing China's growing rivalry with the U. S., the author, a former Beijing bureau chief for the Finanical Times, does not subscribe to the idea of a "linear transfer" of power from the U. S. to China . . . he thinks that the contest with China will come to define U. S. foreign policy, and that America's interests are best served by fiscal and military restraint."
—The New Yorker
"Well researched, with detailed information, interviews and evidence . . . Those who want a comprehensive treatment of an important issue that will shape much of our world for the next 20 years should read this book."
—Mark O'Neill, South China Morning Post
"Original ideas and illuminating insights . . . a simple but persuasive explanation for why a geopolitical contest between the United States and China will dominate the new century . . . a very timely book that has a clear and sophisticated argument. For the cottage industry of books on contemporary Chinese foreign relations, The Contest of the Century has definitely set a new and more demanding standard."
—Minxin Pei, San Francisco Gate
“[I]lluminating . . . Dyer’s lively prose, vivid reportage, and long experience reporting on the country really shine, making this one of the most lucid, readable, and insightful of the current rise-of-China studies.”
“The Contest of the Century is a perfect antidote to all the noise that passes for journalism these days. Here is a seasoned foreign correspondent calmly taking the measure of Asia's pivotal giant.”
—Robert D. Kaplan, author of The Revenge of Geography
“A colorful and compelling read that offers three crucial insights. America’s relationship with China will define the 21st century. Their relations will be far more subtle and dynamic than post-Cold War conventional wisdom suggests. There is nothing inevitable about either China’s rise or the outcome of the two countries’ competition. This is a fascinating story from an experienced journalist who knows how to tell it.”
—Ian Bremmer, author of Every Nation for Itself