Susan Shirk

Research Professor at the School of Global Policy and Chair of the 21st Century China Program and Strategy, University of California, San Diego


Susan Shirk is the Chair of the 21st Century China Program and Research Professor at the School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS, formerly known as the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies) at UC San Diego. She is also director emeritus of the University of California’s Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC). Susan Shirk first visited China in 1971 and has been teaching, researching and engaging China diplomatically ever since.

From 1997-2000, Shirk served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs, with responsibility for China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mongolia. She served as the director of IGCC during 1991–1997 and then again during 2006-2011, and as the IGCC research director during 2000–2006.

In 1993, she founded, and continues to lead, the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue (NEACD), a Track II forum for discussions of security issues among defense and foreign ministry officials and academics from the U.S., Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and North Korea.

Shirk's publications include her books, China: Fragile Superpower; How China Opened Its Door: The Political Success of the PRC's Foreign Trade and Investment Reforms; The Political Logic of Economic Reform in China; Competitive Comrades: Career Incentives and Student Strategies in China; and her edited book, Changing Media, Changing China.

Shirk served as a member of the U.S. Defense Policy Board, the Board of Governors for the East-West Center (Hawaii), the Board of Trustees of the U.S.-Japan Foundation, and the Board of Directors of the National Committee on United States-China Relations. As Senior Adviser to The Albright Group, Shirk advised private sector clients on China and East Asia. She is a member of the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, and an emeritus member of the Aspen Strategy Group. Dr. Shirk received her BA in Political Science from Mount Holyoke College, her MA in Asian Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and her PhD in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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