The best books on China’s global and African strategies

Pádraig Carmody Author Of Africa's Shadow Rise: China and the Mirage of African Economic Development
By Pádraig Carmody

The Books I Picked & Why

The Long Game: China's Grand Strategy to Displace American Order

By Rush Doshi

Book cover of The Long Game: China's Grand Strategy to Displace American Order

Why this book?

There is a veritable cottage industry now on books on China and its global strategy and influence. This book by Rush Doshi is one of the best because its analysis is based on extensive analysis of Chinese Communist party documents over decades. Doshi's analysis asks whether or not China has a grand strategy by examining China’s foreign policy concepts, capabilities, and conduct. This makes for a compelling and detailed analysis. 


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The World Turned Upside Down: America, China, and the Struggle for Global Leadership

By Clyde Prestowitz

Book cover of The World Turned Upside Down: America, China, and the Struggle for Global Leadership

Why this book?

This is a fascinating book by a long-time Washington insider on the reasons for, and strategy behind, China’s rise. He details the crucial geopolitics behind America and China’s changing positionality. He argues that China’s rise was facilitated by common animosity towards the Soviet Union and fundamental misunderstandings by the American policy elite of the Chinese system. It is packed full of interesting insight and details, including that the Chinese Communist Party does not legally exist, so can never be held to account. 


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China's Civilian Army: The Making of Wolf Warrior Diplomacy

By Peter Martin

Book cover of China's Civilian Army: The Making of Wolf Warrior Diplomacy

Why this book?

Many analysts have noted a more aggressive or assertive international posture by China in recent years, sometimes termed “Wolf Warrior Diplomacy” after a Chinese action movie from 2017 where a Chinese former special forces soldier defeats an American adversary. This book explains the origins and evolution of China’s diplomatic corp and how it has always been run on military lines, including having a twinning arrangement for diplomats where they are required to report on their partner if they become “ideologically impure.” Martin explains the reasons for China’s more assertive foreign policy in recent years, including through the weaponisation of trade and tourism and in one case the beating up of Taiwanese diplomats. 


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Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa

By Deborah Brautigam

Book cover of Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa

Why this book?

Africa has been a test-bed for China’s new foreign economic policy since the early 2000s. This is the seminal, and at the time definitive, treatment of Chinese engagement on the continent. Brautigam’s knowledge of Sino-African relations is unrivalled and her myth-busting approach makes for compelling and enlightening reading. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand the nature of Sino-African relations. 


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China and Africa: The New Era

By Daniel Large

Book cover of China and Africa: The New Era

Why this book?

The ascent to power of Xi Jinxing in China in 2013 heralded a new era in China’s overseas engagements and in its domestic politics and economic policy; what Elizabeth Economy has called the “third revolution.” This fascinating book by Large brings the story of China’s engagements in Africa up to date. It is packed with fascinating details and analysis and shows how China’s interests on the continent are shifting from being primarily economic to being more geopolitical. It is a detailed and nuanced analysis of the changed nature of relations. 


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