Leadership and the Rise of Great Powers - Book Summary

Xuetong Yan



A leading foreign policy thinker uses Chinese political theory to explain why some powers rise as others decline and what this means for the international order

Why has China grown increasingly important in the world arena while lagging behind the United States and its allies across certain sectors? Using the lens of classical Chinese political theory, Leadership and the Rise of Great Powers explains China’s expanding influence by presenting a moral-realist theory that attributes the rise and fall of great powers to political leadership. Yan Xuetong shows that the stronger a rising state’s political leadership, the more likely it is to displace a prevailing state in the international system. Yan shows how rising states like China transform the international order by reshaping power distribution and norms, and he considers America’s relative decline in international stature even as its economy, education system, military, political institutions, and technology hold steady. Leadership and the Rise of Great Powers offers a provocative, alternative perspective on the changing dominance of states.


What will you learn from this book

  1. Power Dynamics: The book delves into the dynamics of power and leadership among great powers, analyzing historical and contemporary examples to understand patterns of rise and decline.
  2. Meritocracy: It discusses the role of meritocracy in leadership, emphasizing the importance of competent and capable leaders in guiding great powers to success.
  3. Ethics and Morality: Leadership and the Rise of Great Powers explores the ethical and moral dimensions of leadership, including the impact of values, principles, and ethical conduct on international relations.
  4. Strategic Thinking: The book emphasizes the significance of strategic thinking and long-term planning in effective leadership, especially in navigating complex geopolitical challenges.
  5. Balance of Power: It examines the concept of the balance of power and its implications for leadership among great powers, highlighting strategies for maintaining stability and avoiding conflicts.
  6. Soft Power: Leadership and the Rise of Great Powers addresses the role of soft power, including cultural influence, diplomacy, and alliances, in enhancing a nation's leadership position.
  7. Economic Strength: It discusses the relationship between economic strength, innovation, and leadership, showcasing how economic prowess contributes to a nation's influence on the global stage.
  8. Security and Defense: The book covers security and defense strategies in leadership, including military capabilities, alliances, and strategies for maintaining national security.
  9. Adaptability and Resilience: Leadership and the Rise of Great Powers emphasizes the importance of adaptability and resilience in leadership, especially in responding to unforeseen challenges and changes in the international landscape.
  10. Global Governance: It addresses the role of great powers in global governance, including their responsibilities, contributions, and influence in shaping international norms and institutions.
Language English
No of pages 20
Book Publisher i-Read Publications
Published Date 24 Apr 2024

About Author

Author : Xuetong Yan


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