from Asia Program

The World According to China

This compelling book reveals China’s ambitious new strategy to reclaim the country’s past glory and reshape the geostrategic landscape in dramatic new ways.

Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

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Xi Jinping

Hong Kong


South China Sea

An economic and military superpower with 20 percent of the world’s population, China has the wherewithal to transform the international system. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s bold calls for China to “lead in the reform of the global governance system” suggest that he has just such an ambition. But how does he plan to realize it? And what does it mean for the rest of the world?

In this compelling book, Elizabeth C. Economy reveals China’s ambitious new strategy to reclaim the country’s past glory and reshape the geostrategic landscape in dramatic new ways. Xi’s vision is one of Chinese centrality on the global stage, in which the mainland has realized its sovereignty claims over Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the South China Sea; deepened its global political, economic, and security reach through its grand-scale Belt and Road Initiative; and used its leadership in the United Nations and other institutions to align international norms and values, particularly around human rights, with those of China. It is a world radically different from that of today. The United States and its allies need to understand and respond to the great risks, as well as the potential opportunities, of a world rebuilt by China.

More on:


Xi Jinping

Hong Kong


South China Sea

Reviews and Endorsements

In this marvelous (and sobering) book, Elizabeth Economy dissects China’s grand strategy: a Sino-centric world order across all domains, with military and power projection to match. Western bromides will not counter China’s determination.

Charlene Barshefsky, Chair, Parkside Global Advisors, and Former U.S. Trade Representative

If you want to understand the most important competition of this century, read The World According to China. Elizabeth Economy illuminates the Chinese Communist Party’s grand ambition and forces us to confront the reality that if it succeeds, our world will be less free, less prosperous, and less safe.

H.R. McMaster, author of Dereliction of Duty and Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World

In this brilliant, urgent analysis, Elizabeth Economy proves once again why she is one of the most important scholars of China in a generation. With a penetrating vision for the motives obscured by the official boilerplate, she makes a convincing case for the degree to which China seeks to transform the international system.

Evan Osnos, author of Age of Ambition

This is a well-researched and cogently written book that explains how China under Xi Jinping engages the world. It provides a convincing account of how China uses all means available, conventional and unconventional, to make China great again.

Steve Tsang, SOAS China Institute

Having long revered Elizabeth Economy’s China expertise, I had lofty expectations. After reading this book, my admiration for her only amplified. Thoroughly researched, Economy’s analysis of Xi’s—and thus China’s—view of the world both engages and educates. A must-read!

Chris Fenton, author of Feeding the Dragon

Employing her trademark thoroughness, clarity, and insight, Elizabeth Economy probes deeply into China’s ambitions and actions to reorder the world order. Business leaders must read this book as inducing and coercing multinationals to go along is an indispensable part of China achieving success.

James McGregor, Chairman of Greater China for APCO Worldwide

Elizabeth Economy is one of the world's most astute interpreters of contemporary China. Here she examines domestic and international politics under Xi Jinping to explain why a more assertive and powerful China will raise questions that the west must urgently answer. Essential reading for all those who need to understand today's China.

Rana Mitter, University of Oxford

The World According to China captures effectively the range of challenges contemporary China poses for the international order. Engaging and incisive, the patterns of behavior it reveals provide much-needed insight into the nature of China’s current and future role on the global stage.

Robert Sutter, George Washington University

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