Do leaders make history or does history make leaders? At a National Committee program on November 10, 2016, in New York City, Kerry Brown tackled these perennial questions as he talked about the Berkshire Dictionary of Chinese Biography, which he edited—the first work of its kind in over a century. Brown presented Chinese biography as a uniquely useful way to understand historical events, and discussed the influence of individual Chinese leaders, in different fields, over the last four decades. He also discussed his book CEO, China: The Rise of Xi Jinping, which examines the role of Xi Jinping today and contrasts him with Chinese leaders of the past. Brown discussed Chinese leadership questions in a global context, and explored how individuals are shaped by their times but also have the potential to influence Chinese and world history. He was joined in conversation by NCUSCR President Stephen Orlins.
Kerry Brown is professor of Chinese Studies and director of the Lau China Institute at King's College, London. From 2012 to 2015 he was professor of Chinese Politics and director of the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, Australia. Prior to this he worked at Chatham House from 2006 to 2012, as senior fellow and then head of the Asia Programme. From 1998 to 2005 he worked at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as first secretary at the British Embassy in Beijing, and then as head of the Indonesia, Philippine and East Timor Section. He lived in the Inner Mongolia region of China from 1994 to 1996. Dr. Brown has a Master of Arts from Cambridge University, a Post Graduate Diploma in Mandarin Chinese (Distinction) from Thames Valley University, London, and a PhD in Chinese politics and language from Leeds University. He is the author of over ten books on modern Chinese politics, history and language, the most recent of which are The New Emperors: Power and the Princelings in China (2014) and What's Wrong with Diplomacy: The Case of the UK and China (2015). He was editor in chief of the Berkshire Dictionary of Chinese Biography (in four volumes- 2014-2015). His CEO, China: the Rise of Xi Jinping was published in 2016.