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January 20, 2009 in The China Beat


Copyright January 20, 2009 Kate Merkel-Hess. Used by permission.


There are many people just now wondering what Barack Obama’s China policy will look like, and many eager to advise him. For instance, the National Bureau of Asian Research’s journal, Asia Policy, has published a lengthy roundtable that does just that. I was curious too—what would a learned group of distinguished China watchers, including academics, journalists, and public intellectuals, propose as the new President’s information sources? Here was the note I sent out:

The United States has a new President who seems intellectually curious, will definitely have to deal with many issues relating to China, and is likely to take a trip to Beijing before too long. Imagine that you have just been told that he wants you to send him (via his Blackberry, of course) a list of five things you think he should read to help him formulate policies relating to China and/or prepare to go there on a state visit. He’d also like you to give just a sentence or two of explanation for each item, justifying its inclusion on your list, and he wants you to be clear that you can choose books, articles or online pieces as readings, and that they can be old or new. What would you write?

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be running the answers China Beat receives. I hope some of them will be inspirations for further inquiry and reading, for you and for (fingers crossed) President Obama. Here is the first installment…