Even though President Joe Biden has indicated a recalibration of China policy from that of the Donald Trump administration, little has changed since the 2020 presidential election with regard to the tone—which is to say that Beijing is still considered a challenge to be confronted and has the potential to be a competitor in a new Cold War. The urgency of constructing the appropriate foreign policy toward China necessitates, now more than ever, a deeper understanding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its leaders. Steven P. Feldman's Dictatorship by Degrees: Xi Jinping in China and David Shambaugh's China's Leaders: From Mao to Now are two such books for anyone who seeks to understand the thought processes and motivations of China's leadership and how these might affect the future of China, the direction of US foreign policy, and market implications for China.

In Dictatorship by Degrees, Feldman takes a...

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