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China's Civilian Army: The Making of Wolf Warrior Diplomacy

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A book talk with Peter Martin, author and defense policy and intelligence reporter at Bloomberg

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Duration: 59:45


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This event is part of International Education Week.



“There’s never been a more important time to understand the motivations that drive Chinese diplomacy. Peter Martin’s superb book delves into the history of China’s diplomatic corps in a way that sheds new light on the nature of Chinese power today. It should become required reading for anyone who hopes to understand Chinese foreign policy.”
Stephen J. Hadley, former US National Security Advisor

“The United States simply cannot outcompete China without outcompeting its diplomats and economic influence in Asia and around the world. Martin’s book skillfully captures the steely determination of China to secure its interests abroad, demonstrating the challenges facing the US and its partners and underscoring the criticality of working together to develop more coordinated approaches to China across the board.”
Michèle Flournoy, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and Co-Founder of WestExec Advisors

The untold story of China's rise as a global superpower, chronicled through the diplomatic shock troops that connect Beijing to the world. China's Civilian Army charts China's transformation from an isolated and impoverished communist state to a global superpower from the perspective of those on the front line: China's diplomats. They give a rare perspective on the greatest geopolitical drama of the last half century.

In the early days of the People's Republic, diplomats were highly-disciplined, committed communists who feared revealing any weakness to the threatening capitalist world. Remarkably, the model that revolutionary leader Zhou Enlai established continues to this day despite the massive changes the country has undergone in recent decades.

Little is known or understood about the inner workings of the Chinese government as the country bursts onto the world stage, as the world's second largest economy and an emerging military superpower. China's diplomats embody its battle between insecurity and self-confidence, internally and externally. To this day, Chinese diplomats work in pairs so that one can always watch the other for signs of ideological impurity. They're often dubbed China's "wolf warriors" for their combative approach to asserting Chinese interests.

Drawing for the first time on the memoirs of more than a hundred retired diplomats as well as author Peter Martin's first-hand reporting as a journalist in Beijing, this groundbreaking book blends history with current events to tease out enduring lessons about the kind of power China is set to become. It is required reading for anyone who wants to understand China's quest for global power, as seen from the inside.



Use code AAFLYG6 for 30% off at Oxford University Press.



Peter Martin is Bloomberg's defense policy and intelligence reporter in Washington, DC and author of China's Civilian Army: The Making of Wolf Warrior Diplomacy. He was previously based in Beijing where he wrote extensively on escalating tensions in the US-China relationship and reported from China's border with North Korea and its far-western region of Xinjiang. His writing has been published by outlets including Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, the National Interest, and the Guardian. He holds degrees from the University of Oxford, Peking University and the London School of Economics.



Alexandra Lieben is the Deputy Director of the Burkle Center for International Relations.