Getting China Wrong

Aaron Friedberg, Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University

September 29, 2022  |  12:15 PM-1:30 PM
SRH 3.122, LBJ School of Public Affairs

On Thursday, September 29, the Asia Policy Program, the Clements Center for National Security, the Alexander Hamilton Society at UT Austin, and the Center for East Asian Studies, are hosting Aaron Friedberg, Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University, for a book talk on his recent release Getting China Wrong. Join us at 12:15 PM in SRH 3.122, LBJ School of Public Affairs. The Asia Policy Program is a joint effort of the Clements Center for National Security and the Strauss Center for International Security and Law

The West’s strategy of engagement with China has failed. More than three decades of trade and investment with the advanced democracies have left that country far richer and stronger than it would otherwise have been. But growth and development have not caused China’s rulers to relax their grip on political power, abandon their mercantilist economic policies, or accept the rules and norms of the existing international system. To the contrary: China today is more repressive at home, more aggressive abroad, and more obviously intent on establishing itself as the world’s preponderant power than at any time since the death of Chairman Mao. What went wrong?

Put simply, the democracies underestimated the resilience, resourcefulness, and ruthlessness of the Chinese Communist Party.  For far too long, the United States and its allies failed to take seriously the Party’s unwavering determination to crush opposition, build national power, and fulfill its ideological and geopolitical ambitions.  In this timely and powerfully argued study, Aaron Friedberg identifies the assumptions underpinning engagement, describes the counterstrategy that China’s Communist Party rulers devised in order to exploit the West’s openness while defeating its plans, and explains what the democracies must do now if they wish to preserve their prosperity, protect their security, and defend their common values.


Aaron L. Friedberg is Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1987, and co-director of Princeton’s Center for International Security Studies.  In January 2022 he was appointed to a two-year term on the Congressional US-China Economic and Security Review Commission. From 2003 to 2005 he served as a Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs in the office of the Vice President and he was subsequently appointed to the Defense Policy Board.  In 2000-2001 he was a member of a panel tasked by Congress with reviewing the CIA’s analysis of China. He has conducted studies for a number of government agencies, including the Office of Net Assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the National Security Council.

In 2001-2002 Friedberg was selected as the first occupant of the Henry A. Kissinger Chair at the Library of Congress. He has been a research fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, the Norwegian Nobel Institute, the Smithsonian Institution’s Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., and Harvard University’s Center for International Affairs. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London and serves as a counselor to the National Bureau of Asian Research. 

Friedberg is the author of several books and monographs, including The Weary Titan: Britain and the Experience of Relative Decline, 1895-1905 (1988), In the Shadow of the Garrison State: America’s Anti-Statism and Its Cold War Grand Strategy (2000), A Contest for Supremacy: China, America, and the Struggle for Mastery in Asia (2011), Beyond Air-Sea Battle: The Debate Over U.S. Military Strategy in Asia (2014), The Authoritarian Challenge: China, Russia and the Threat to the International Order (2017).  He is the author (with Charles Bustany) of Partial Disengagement: A New U.S. Strategy for Economic Competition With China (2019).  His most recent book is Getting China Wrong (2022).

Dr. Friedberg received his A.B., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University.