The Contest of the Century
The New Era of Competition with China--and How America Can Win
By Geoff A. Dyer
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780307960757, 320pp.)
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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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.
Geoff Dyer is a journalist for the Financial Times and has been a correspondent in China, the United States, and Brazil. He is the recipient of a Fulbright award and of several journalism awards, including a Society of Publishers in Asia award for a series of opinion pieces about China’s role in the world in 2010. He studied at Cambridge University and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He lives with his family in Washington, D.C.
"Fascinating . . . Stimulating, erudite, and deeply researched, perfectly timed to explain the unfolding conflicts in East Asia."
—Ian Johnson, The New York Review of Books
"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
“[L]ucid, well-argued…With telling anecdotes and reported conversations, [Dyer] shows how China's foreign policy has misfired in east Asia, ‘doing a lot of America's diplomatic work for it’ by frightening its neighbours. And he traces the limits of China's expansion into the Indian Ocean and its vulnerabilities given its dependency on imports of raw materials. But his is far from an America-triumphant story. China is not going to go away as a major global player, and Dyer concludes that, over time, it and the US will have to find a way to live together, particularly in the ocean between them.”
—The Guardian (UK)
“[P]rovide[s] a corrective to the lately fashionable gloom-and-doom analysis...Even now, there is reluctance to identify China as a competitor, perhaps born of difficulty conceiving of this possibility. Unlike our last major competitor, the Soviet Union, China is also a major trade partner, and China continues to represent a market opportunity in the eyes of many Western business interests. So we are tempted to jump from denial to defeatism. Not Dyer…[I]mpressive.”
—The National Interest
“[D]ismisses the idea that a transition of global leadership from a declining America to a rising China is predetermined. [Dyer] makes his case by assessing the military, political, and economic dimensions of the competition, including the many dilemmas and challenges that China faces in its quest for primacy... convincingly argues that China has many limitations and obstacles to its aspirations as a great power.”
—The Weekly Standard
"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