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Overreach and Overreaction: The Downward Spiral in the U.S.-China Relations

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Stanford Libraries and the Stanford Center on China's Economy and Institutions are pleased to present the 2022 Dr. Sam-Chung Hsieh Memorial Lecture featuring Professor Susan Shirk who will be speaking on Overreach and Overreaction: The Downward Spiral in the U.S.-China Relations.  This is an in-person event.

Why did China abandon its successful foreign policy of restraint and shift toward confrontation and unchecked control over its own society? Surprisingly the shift began under Hu Jintao's collective leadership (2002-12). Under the personalistic leadership of Xi Jinping the trend has intensified. Those who implement Xi's directives compete to outdo one another, provoking an even greater global backlash. To counter China's overreach, the worst mistake the rest of the world, and the United States in particular, can make is to overreact. Understanding the domestic political drivers of foreign policy in both countries can help us stem the downward spiral in relations.


Susan Shirk is Chair of the 21st Century China Center and research professor at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy. Shirk's book, China:  Fragile Superpower helped frame the policy debate on China in the U.S. and other countries. Her articles have appeared in leading academic publications in political science, international relations, and China studies. She previously served as deputy assistant secretary of state (1997-2000) responsible for U.S. policy toward China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mongolia. She is director emeritus of the UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation and founded the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue, an unofficial forum for discussion of security issues. Shirk is a graduate of Mt. Holyoke College and received her PhD from M.I.T.


The family of Dr. Sam-Chung Hsieh donated his personal archive to the Stanford Libraries' Special Collections and endowed the Dr. Sam-Chung Hsieh Memorial Lecture series to honor his legacy and to inspire future generations. Dr. Sam-Chung Hsieh (1919-2004) was former Governor of the Central Bank in Taiwan. During his tenure, he was responsible for the world's largest foreign exchange reserves, and was widely recognized for achieving stability and economic growth. In his long and distinguished career as economist and development specialist, he held key positions in multilateral institutions including the Asian Development Bank, where as founding Director, he was instrumental in advancing the green revolution and in the transformation of rural Asia. Read more about Dr. Hsieh.