Confucius and the World He Created

As China rises to superpower status, the country is challenging the United States not just economically and politically-- but also ideologically. Its leadership is asserting its own political and economic model as an alternative to American-style democracy and capitalism-- one Beijing believes is based on its own non-Western traditions.

The ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius is, according to Michael Schuman's new book, Confucius and the World He Created, critical to China's political agenda today. The Chinese Communist Party is reviving Confucius as an attempt to legitimize its authoritarian rule by linking it to the country's political history. Confucius, they believe, can also act as a bulwark against dangerous democratic ideals from the West. Whether or not this Confucian campaign succeeds will have huge implications for China's political future, its role in the world, and Beijing-Washington relations.

We spoke with journalist and author Michael Shuman, along with Hua Hsu and John Bussey, on the steps it will take for Americans to contend with China in an ever-shifting world.


Hua Hsu is a New America fellow, working on a study of immigrant culture and American ideas around diversity. He is an associate professor at Vassar College, a contributor to the New Yorker, and an executive board member of the Asian American Writers Workshop.