Today, the Paulson Institute hosted Princeton University professor and former U.S. State Department official Tom Christensen as part of its lecture and discussion series on contemporary China. Christensen, the William P. Boswell Professor of World Politics of Peace and War and Director of the China and the World Program at Princeton University, spoke about the challenges facing the United States as it seeks to shape the choices of a rising China.
Christensen pointed out that many people see China as a rival superpower to the United States and imagine the country’s rise to be a threat to U.S. leadership in Asia and beyond. Referencing his recent book, The China Challenge, Christensen argued against this zero-sum vision. Instead, he described a new paradigm in which the real challenge lies in dissuading China from regional aggression while encouraging the country to contribute to the global order. Drawing on decades of scholarship and experience as a senior diplomat, Christensen offered a compelling new assessment of U.S.-China relations that emphasized the importance of the relationship to the future of the globalized world.
Thomas J. Christensen is the William P. Boswell Professor of World Politics of Peace and War and Director of the China and the World Program at Princeton University. From 2006-2008 he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs with responsibility for relations with China, Taiwan, and Mongolia. His research and teaching focuses on China’s foreign relations, the international relations of East Asia, and international security. Before arriving at Princeton in 2003, he taught at Cornell University and MIT. He received his B.A. from Haverford College, M.A. in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania, and Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University. Professor Christensen has served on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and as co-editor of the International History and Politics series at Princeton University Press. He is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Non-Resident Senior Scholar at the Brookings Institution. In 2002 he was presented with a Distinguished Public Service Award by the United States Department of State.