On his first visit to China late last year, Barack Obama stuck closely to the script mapped out by his predecessors George W Bush and Bill Clinton.
He asserted that America welcomed China’s growing wealth and power. Relations between the US and China were not, he insisted, a “zero-sum game”. America was comfortable with a rising China.
Stefan Halper, a senior research fellow at Magdalene College, Cambridge and a former official in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations, is having none of it. He believes that the coming decades will see an increasingly overt competition between the two nations. China, he asserts, “poses the most serious challenge to the United States since the half-century cold war struggle with the Soviets”. What is more, Halper is not particularly optimistic about America’s chances in this new struggle. His book is subtitled “How China’s Authoritarian Model will Dominate the Twenty-First Century”.