Friday, March 15, 2013 | 4:30 PM EDT - 4:30 PM EDT

, New York, NY

In 2008 when Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Chancellor’s Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine, was working on his book, China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know, China was in the headlines: it was the year of the Olympic Games, a major earthquake in Sichuan, demonstrations in Tibet, environmental protests in the Yangzi Delta, and nationalist outbursts in Beijing. Four years later, when he was updating the book (the revised edition will be published in June), there was no earthquake or Olympic spectacle, but once again Tibet, the environment, and nationalism competed for attention. In addition, a blind lawyer fled China for New York and Bo Xilai fell with startling speed. The one expected major news event in 2012, Hu Jintao passing the baton to Xi Jinping, seemed anticlimactic when it finally occurred, and no one is quite sure how the new leader will differ from his predecessor.

2013 has begun with its own dramas, from a strike by journalists in Guangzhou to record-breaking smog levels in Beijing to reports that Chinese hackers launched cyber-attacks on a wide range of American institutions. Jeffrey Wasserstrom turned a cultural historian's eye on recent developments at a National Committee luncheon program on Friday, March 15, at Jones Day.


Jeffrey Wasserstrom is the Chancellor’s Professor of History and chair of the department of history at the University of California, Irvine, where he also serves as editor of the Journal of Asian Studies. A member of the board of directors of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and an associate fellow of the Asia Society, he is the author of four books and the co-editor of the recent Chinese Characters: Profiles of Fast-Changing Lives in a Fast-Changing Land (University of California Press, 2012). His commentaries and reviews have appeared in leading newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time, and the Nation. He writes often for online venues such as the Huffington Post and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Professor Wasserstrom holds a B.A. from UC Santa Cruz, a master's from Harvard, and a doctorate from Berkeley. He has been traveling to China regularly ever since he spent a year in Shanghai as a Fulbright-Hays fellow in the mid-1980s.

Politics & Foreign Relations

  • INTERVIEW | Jeffrey Wasserstrom on China’s Latest Twists and Turns
  • Politics & Foreign Relations

    Recorded 3/15/2013