Author Howard French discusses his new book Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Shapes China's Push for Global Power. Until the mid-19th century, China occupied the premier place in East Asia’s political order. Exercising cultural and political hegemony through a set of tributary relationships with its neighbors, China’s imperial bureaucrats developed a conception of rule different from the Westphalian idea of individual nation states. After more than a century of political turmoil, China is once again asserting itself on the global stage, and many observers have interpreted China’s present ambitions as an attempt to restore its former glory. Combining journalistic and historical research methods, Howard French delves into the link between contemporary China and its imperial past in his new book. In Everything Under the Heavens, he examines how China’s leaders understand their own history, and analyzes the ideological, philosophical, and legal implications of this intellectual heritage. He also explains what this means for U.S.-China relations going forward. Mr. French joined the National Committee at an event on May 2, 2017, to discuss his book and strategies for engaging a resurgent China with Senior Director for Education Programs Margot Landman.
Howard French is an associate professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. He is a former reporter for The Washington Post and former bureau chief for The New York Times in Central America and the Caribbean, West and Central Africa, Japan, and China. He is the recipient of two Overseas Press Club awards and a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee. He is the author of A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa and China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa. He has written for The Atlantic, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, and Rolling Stone, among other national publications.