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ChinaTalk: Stephen Kotkin on China

Jordan Schneider
Thursday, March 23, 2023, 12:22 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

Stephen Kotkin is a legendary historian, currently at Hoover, previously at Princeton. Best known for his Stalin biographies, his other works include Uncivil Society, Magnetic Mountain, and Armageddon Averted.

Our discussion on China is far-ranging yet in-depth — we manage to pack in:

  • The two dominant subjects taught at the CCP’s Central Party School;
  • Kotkin’s assessment of the main threat to Communism — what “Communism with a human face” means, and why Gorbachev’s reforms ultimately destroyed Communism in the USSR;
  • Why the CCP fears color revolutions more than, say, NATO expansion — and why Xi snapped on Hong Kong in 2020;
  • The twin components of Marxism-Leninism: anti-capitalism + anti-imperialism;
  • And an understanding of Lenin’s “commanding heights,” and what China’s commanding heights are today;
  • The case for optimism about US-China relations, despite — or because of — the recent ratcheting up of tensions;
  • Why Kotkin believes a US-China Cold War is both good and necessary;
  • How the US can get on the diplomatic “front foot”;
  • Making sense of Reagan’s foreign policy — how he was both a “movement conservative” and a “dealmaking conservative.”

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Outro music: Sam Cooke - What a Wonderful World

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Jordan Schneider is the host of the ChinaTalk podcast and newsletter. He previously worked at Kwai, Bridgewater and the Eurasia Group. His Chinese landscape paintings "show promise."

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