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The Contest of the Century: The New Era of Competition with China--and How America Can Win Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 4, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

After decades of dominance in world geopolitics, the U.S. is now facing a growing rivalry with China that will be the major factor in world politics in the coming decades. But that rivalry is not likely to be as intense and bitter as the Cold War rivalry with the Soviet Union. Instead, it will be characterized by a constant balancing of power and shifting coalitions, according to Dyer, economics correspondent for the Financial Times. Dyer focuses on three phenomena: the rising Chinese challenge to U.S. power in military might in Asia, nationalist policies on the world stage, and the challenge to the U.S. dollar by the strengthening Chinese currency. Dyer places the current rise of China in the broader context of changes in the Chinese Communist Party, including reform of its image since the Tiananmen Square massacre and more expansive economic, if not political, policies. Finally, Dyer addresses fatalistic views of the rise of China, arguing that the U.S. can continue to exert enormous influence if it stabilizes its own economy and neither confronts China nor isolates itself. A thoughtful, insightful look at changing geopolitics. --Vanessa Bush

Review

"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.”
Publishers Weekly

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
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (February 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307960757
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307960757
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #823,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alastair Browne on May 24, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Whether you know it or not, China is a rising power, and they are here to stay! Whether or not they completely replace the U.S. as THE world power is mainly up to the U.S., not China.
Even if you don't think China is going to do so, they are not going anywhere, nor are they going to lose their clout. This book explains how China is going to remain a power in two categories: militarily and economically. This political aspects are attached to these two fore mentioned categories.
This book could not have come out at a better time, because as you read the descriptions of what China is doing, you will also read about them in your newspaper, for these are present day headlines.
Militarily, China is building up its Navy, not its Army, and they lay claim to all of the South China Sea, where the real battle is taking place. They also want to control the Western Pacific and the Indian Oceans, for that is where their trade and commerce is mostly taking place, and they do not want anyone to threaten their trade routes, especially the U.S. It must not be forgotten that China has a history of oppression and humiliation, and they want to reassert themselves in today's global economy.
China may not want to be a global power as such, but they do want control of their own backyard, which is natural for any strong nation. Trouble for them is, other eastern countries are also rising, among them Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Vietnam, and they want to control their local waters off of their coasts. There are a lot of resources in these waters: fish, oil, minerals, to name a few, and these nations want them as badly as China.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By JYK on February 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed reading this book and felt Mr. Dyer gets China. He illustrates the historical background that drives many geopolitical actions of the Chinese government, including their support for the failing regime of North Korea, which makes sense only if we understand their deep-seated but outdated need for a buffer against the U.S. He also shows the Chinese government's calculated manipulation of their populace when it comes to Japan or Tibet. People in Asia do not want to go back to the pre-20th century relationship where they routinely had to make tributes and bend to China's will. The book makes us think about ways that America can stay relevant in the all-important Asia region by helping us to understand the frenemy that is China.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By ernest schusky on March 29, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Dyer has to review some of the obvious ways in which China competes with the United States, but he shares insights into a not-so-well-known China that appears to have taken all the theoretical development recommendations to heart. Thus, he points out such little known facts as China's investment in education which puts the U.S. to shame. Not only is it investing in elementary education but particularly in its universities and research centers. Its investment in basic technology is equally scary, particularly in electronics. It appears soon able to bypass Japan and quite possibly the U.S. Doubtless that is its goal, and what I gather from the book is that the Chinese government has the patience to keep on track in the contest until it wins.
For the short run, I suspect Dyer is expecting too much of China, but he makes a convincing case that in the long run the odds on China are better than 50-50, especially if the U.S. continues in its miserly funding of education and research.
The most interesting and speculative point he makes is that China is determined to prove to the world that its ways are superior to the Western ways of democracy and freedom.
ernestschusky.com
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By P. Furia on March 30, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As an international relations prof who doesn't specialize in China (and who got roped into doing a last minute independent study course on US-China rivalry with a student who needed a credit to graduate) I tacked this book onto our course requirements because I needed a fifth book out of five...Despite those low expectations, I think this was both my and the student's favorite of the selections. Notwithstanding the sensational and jingoistic title no doubt forced on this self-described first time author by his publisher, I found the book both engagingly-written and subtle...The first chapters on US-China naval rivalry go into much more detail about that than do the ostensibly more scholarly books we examined, and although Dyer didn't persuade me I should care who has hegemony of the Western Pacific, he made a better case than the others who tried... The other chapters are, as one of the other reviews says, somewhat superficial, and they'll certainly disappoint those Americans eager to "beat" China attracted by the title, but that's not to say the book isn't enjoyable and thoughtful throughout -- all in all, very nicely done!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kristopher Munn on May 16, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having lived and worked in China for the last 5 years, I see first hand many of the issues involved with the US/China "contest". Dyer, does a good job introducing the issues and following up with a few examples and ideas; but it seems unfinished on both a political and personal level. I would have liked to see more details invested in the economic ties between both countries and the effects that conflict or changes in political ideals would have on trade...or, if trade binds the two nations together so tightly, that any small escalation will always be downplayed by both nations. Other than that, it was an interesting read, especially for those looking to learn more about China and how they view the US and the world.
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