China scholar Bates Gill says he wrote “Daring to Struggle,” his assessment of China’s foreign policy and strategy under President Xi Jinping, to fill a gap in the literature. Similar books, he explains in a video call, were either too focused on the United States or too polemical. This statement, however, is concerning as Gill’s conclusions are no less troubling than those of the polemicists.
“Daring to Struggle” is the capstone of Gill’s 40 years of watching Beijing; after stints at think tanks around the world, he is now the director of the security studies program at Macquarie University in Sydney. This book builds on “Rising Star,” his 2007 assessment of China’s national security policy, now taking on Xi’s rise to power and its consequences. Since the release of Gill’s previous book, the Chinese leader has presided over a shift in Chinese thinking and performance as it engages the world. Deng Xiaoping’s famous 24-character guidance, summarized as “bide your time, keep a low profile and avoid responsibility” has been chucked in favor of a more assertive and aggressive approach.