Obama and China's Rise

An Insider's Account of America's Asia Strategy

In 2005, veteran diplomat and Asia analyst Jeffrey Bader met for the first time with the then-junior U.S. senator from Illinois. When Barack Obama entered the White House a few years later, Bader was named the senior director for East Asian affairs on the National Security Council, becoming one of a handful of advisers responsible for formulating and implementing the administration's policy regarding that key region. For obvious reasons—a booming economy, expanding military power, and increasing influence over the region—the looming impact of a rising China dominated their efforts.

Obama's original intent was to extend U.S. influence and presence in East Asia, which he felt had been neglected by a Bush administration fixated on the Middle East, particularly Iraq, and the war on terror. China's rise, particularly its military buildup, was heightening anxiety among its neighbors, including key U.S. allies Japan and South Korea. In Obama and China's Rise, Bader explains the administration's efforts to develop stable relations with China while improving relationships with key partners worried about Beijing's new assertiveness.

Bader reveals what he did, discusses what he saw, and interprets what it meant—first during the Obama campaign, and then for the administration. The result is an illuminating backstage view of the formulation and execution of American foreign policy as well as a candid assessment of both. Bader combines insightful and authoritative foreign policy analysis with a revealing and humanizing narrative of his own personal journey.

"Our future presidents will need to find the right balance in China policy, maintaining U.S. strength and watchfulness but not falling into the classical security dilemma trap, where each side interprets growing capabilities as reflecting hostile intent and responds by producing that reality. I believe that President Obama struck that balance. I was honored to be part of his administration in trying to achieve it."
—from the Conclusion of Obama and China's Rise

Get audio and a transcript from the March 8, 2012 book launch at Brookings »


Praise for the book:

"This small gem of a book, written by a highly respected foreign policy practitioner, is filled to overflowing with insights into how policies are made and implemented. It should be required reading for all students of foreign affairs."—Stapleton Roy, former U.S. ambassador to China, Indonesia, and Singapore

"Benefiting from his rich experience in Asian matters and particularly his service on President Obama's National Security Council, Ambassador Bader has produced a fascinating description of the complexity of daily decisionmaking required of the national security team, ranging from organizing agendas and follow-up for innumberable meetings by the president with heads of state to responding to crises such as the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Anyone interested in foreign policy, particularly regarding Asia, will find this highly readable account fascinating."—Carla Hills, Hills and Company International Consultants, former U.S. trade representative

"An exemplary analysis of U.S. policy toward Asia during the early years of the Obama administration, Obama and China's Rise is also a seasoned policymaker's firsthand account of the way in which domestic political factors impinge on our relations with China, Japan, Korea, and other East Asian countries."—Michael Armacost, chairman of the Asia Foundation, former U.S. ambassador to Japan