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China Chats with Stanford Faculty: USA vs China: A New Cold War? Great Power Relations and Competition in the 21st Century with Prof. Michael McFaul


Date and Time

June 25, 2021 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

China Chats with Stanford Faculty

USA vs China:  A New Cold War? Great Power Relations and Competition in the 21st Century

Thirty years ago, the Cold War ended. Today, great power competition is back – or so it seems – with many describing our present era as a “New Cold War” between the United States and China (and Russia). But is this label an illuminating or distorting analogy? More importantly, what should the U.S. do to meet the challengers of great power competition in the 21st century? 

In analyzing contemporary relations, we must trace the historical origins of the U.S.-China relationship, then assess the similarities and differences between the Cold War and U.S.-China relations today along dimensions such as power, ideology, and multilateralism, in order to effectively devise unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral policy prescriptions for U.S. policymakers.

This Stanford alumni event featured Stanford professor Michael McFaul, director at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. He was joined by professor Hongbin Li, co-director of Stanford Center on China's Economy, who moderated a discussion about the major themes of the research. 

Watch the event recording:

About the Speakers:

Headshot of Michael McFaul - 3x4Michael McFaul is Director at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, the Ken Olivier and Angela Nomellini Professor of International Studies in the Department of Political Science, and the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1995.

Dr. McFaul also is as an International Affairs Analyst for NBC News and a columnist for The Washington Post. He served for five years in the Obama administration, first as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House (2009-2012), and then as U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation (2012-2014).

He has authored several books, most recently the New York Times bestseller From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia. Earlier books include Advancing Democracy Abroad: Why We Should, How We Can; Transitions To Democracy: A Comparative Perspective (eds. with Kathryn Stoner); Power and Purpose: American Policy toward Russia after the Cold War (with James Goldgeier); and Russia’s Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin.

His current research interests include American foreign policy, great power relations, and the relationship between democracy and development. Dr. McFaul was born and raised in Montana. He received his B.A. in International Relations and Slavic Languages and his M.A. in Soviet and East European Studies from Stanford University in 1986. As a Rhodes Scholar, he completed his D. Phil. in International Relations at Oxford University in 1991.


hongbin li headshotHongbin Li is the Co-Director of the Stanford Center on China's Economy and Institutions (SCCEI) and a Senior Fellow of Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR). Hongbin obtained his Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University in 2001 and joined the economics department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), where he became full professor in 2007. He was also one of the two founding directors of the Institute of Economics and Finance at the CUHK. He taught at Tsinghua University in Beijing 2007-2016 and was C.V. Starr Chair Professor of Economics in the School of Economics and Management. He also founded and served as the Executive Associate Director of the China Social and Economic Data Center at Tsinghua University. He founded the Chinese College Student Survey (CCSS) in 2009 and the China Employer-Employee Survey (CEES) in 2014.

Hongbin’s research has been focused on the transition and development of the Chinese economy, and the evidence-based research results have been both widely covered by media outlets and well read by policy makers around the world . He is currently the co-editor of the Journal of Comparative Economics.