Coalitions of the Weak


Product Details

Cambridge University Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.57 inches | 0.82 pounds
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About the Author

Victor C. Shih is Ho Miu Lam Chair Associate Professor in China and Pacific Relations at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of Factions and Finance in China: Elite Conflict and Inflation (2007) and the editor of Economic Shocks and Authoritarian Stability: Duration, Institutions and Financial Conditions (2020).


'Shih's focus on Coalitions of the Weak offers a novel explanation for Mao's continued dominance during the last decade of his life. As important, it illuminates Xi Jinping's rise to power, the steps he has taken to strengthen his position, and the tension this creates between prolonging his personal leadership and fostering institutions that might ensure the future stability of the regime he heads.' Avery Goldstein, David M. Knott Professor of Global Politics and International Relations, University of Pennsylvania
'Why did Mao as he aged surround himself with mediocrities and novices, while sidelining his old revolutionary colleagues? How did he survive at the top of a brutal power structure even as his health and cognition failed? Victor Shih suggests these questions are related. In a penetrating account of Chinese politics based on decades of careful research, he shows how in the looking-glass world of dictatorship weakness becomes strength and past disgrace serves to guarantee current obedience.' Daniel Treisman, Professor of Political Science, UCLA and co-author of Spin Dictators: The Changing Face of Tyranny in the 21st Century
'At a time when scholarship and public opinion alike stress the seamless strength of the Chinese Communist state, Victor Shih paints a more complex picture in which insecure leaders from Mao to Xi assemble Coalitions of the Weak to perpetuate their personal rule. Based on a wealth of primary sources, Shih's fascinating analysis reveals an inherent tradeoff between autocratic power and policy success that points to a fundamental vulnerability at the heart of China's political system.' Elizabeth J. Perry, Henry Rosovsky Professor of Government, Harvard University
'Combining deep country expertise, a unique data set, and insights from the political science academy, Prof. Shih pries open the black box of China's elite politics and shines a bright light inside. Coalitions of the Weak should be essential reading for anyone grappling with the implications of China's rapid rise.' Tom Orlik, Chief Economist, Bloomberg, author of China: The Bubble That Never Pops