How do we talk about China? It’s a question every analyst, academic, policymaker, and reporter probably needs to ask themselves. Is China, as some of the hawks claim, an existential threat to the world order? Is it on the verge of aggressively taking the number one spot—or is it on the verge of collapse? Is it a dangerous military threat or is it—as some Chinese commentators claim—an entirely benevolent power?
Navigating this increasingly black-and-white conversation is Kerry Brown, leading China academic and author of China Incorporated: The Politics of a World Where China is Number One.
In this interview, Kerry and I talk about China’s politics, and discuss what—if anything—lies at the foundation of some of the common descriptions about China.
Kerry Brown is Professor of Chinese Studies and Director of the Lau China Institute at King’s College London. He is an Associate of the Asia Pacific Programme at Chatham House, London, an adjunct of the Australia New Zealand School of Government in Melbourne, and the co-editor of the Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, run by the German Institute for Global Affairs in Hamburg. From 1998 to 2005 he worked at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as First Secretary at the British Embassy in Beijing, and then as Head of the Indonesia, Philippine and East Timor Section. He is the author of almost 20 books on modern Chinese politics.
Kerry previously joined the podcast in May 2022 to talk about China Through European Eyes: 800 Years of Cultural and Intellectual Encounter.