The book “Overreach” provides a detailed account of that nation’s political transformation under its current leaders. The author focuses on how China has changed in the past decade. The key player has been Xi Jinping, who replaced the mild-mannered Hu Jintao and has exploited leadership divisions to dispense with the tradition of collective rule and entrench himself as leader-for-life.
The governing class enthusiastically backed Xi, concluding that democracy, even if only at the local level, would eventually be a threat to their power and privileges. There has long been a stream of Chinese thinking that envisions the country’s destiny as being the preeminent global power, but it was the economic boom that provided the strength to effectively shape its foreign policy.
Under Xi, China began to throw its weight around, especially over Hong Kong and the South China Sea. This was the point of overreach as Xi and his administration failed to realize that the rest of the world was not going to accept Chinese dominance—at least not without significant pushback. To improve China’s reputation, the author offers advice to Xi, such as opening a dialogue with Taiwan and closing the internment camps in Xinjiang.
Given the current state of the Chinese government, these moves are highly unlikely, making them odd inclusions in a text about how China’s leaders are intent on gathering ever more power into their hands. While dauntingly detailed in spots, the book is the work of an expert on the subject and should be useful for policymakers. The book is an authoritative account of how China is seeking to become the world’s dominant power. The Weekender