On popular demand, here’s a shortlist of books on China that can help you to understand the country. The list isn’t exhaustive, and there are plenty of other great books about China out there.
The list also includes some books on Tibet.
Governing China: From Revolution to Reform by Ken Lieberthal
The Third Revolution; Xi Jingping and the New Chinese State by Elizabeth C. Economy
China’s Future by David Shambaugh
Politics in China: An Introduction by William Joseph
Internationalizing China by David Zweig
Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China by Ezra Vogel
The Chinese Economy by Barry Naughton
The Political Logic of Economic Reform in China? by Susan Shirk
Factions and Finance in China: Elite Conflict and Inflation by Victor Shih
Also Read: Our pick of top 10 books in 2021
History and Society
China’s Good War: How World War II Is Shaping a New Nationalism by Rana Mitter
The Cambridge History of China (volumes) by John Fairbank
Great State: China and the World by Timothy Brook
Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the Twenty-first Century by Orville Schelle and John Delury
The Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet Since 1947 by Tsering Shakya
Zhang, Y. and Buzan, B. (2012). The Tributary System as International Society in Theory and Practice. The Chinese Journal of International Politics, 5(1), pp.3–36.
Military and People’s Liberation Army
Active Defense: China’s Military Strategy Since 1949 by Taylor Fravel
Strong Borders, Secure Nation: Cooperation and Conflict in China’s Territorial Disputes by Taylor Fravel
Junbo, Z. and Yunzhu, Y. (1996). Differences between traditional Chinese and Western military thinking and their philosophical roots. Journal of Contemporary China, 5(12), pp.209–221.
Scobell, A. (2012). Learning to Rise Peacefully? China and the security dilemma. Journal of Contemporary China, 21(76), pp.713–721.
Mastro, O.S. (2018). In the Shadow of the Thucydides Trap: International Relations Theory and the Prospects for Peace in U.S.-China Relations. Journal of Chinese Political Science, 24(1), pp.25–45.
International Relations and Foreign Policy
China Goes Global: The Partial Power by David Shambaugh
Yan, X. (2014). From Keeping a Low Profile to Striving for Achievement. The Chinese Journal of International Politics, 7(2), pp.153–184.
China’s Civilian Army: The Making of Wolf Warrior Diplomacy by Peter Martin
Rising star: China’s new security diplomacy by Bates Gill
Feng, H., He, K. and Xuetong, Y. (2020). CHINESE SCHOLARS AND FOREIGN POLICY: Debating International Relations. Oxford: Routledge.
Also read: The 10 best books we read this year
India and China
India Versus China: Why They are Not Friends by Kanti Bajpai
India’s China Challenge by Ananth Krishnan
The Fractured Himalaya: India Tibet China 1949-1962 by Nirupama Rao
India and Asian Geopolitics: The Past, Present by Shivshankar Menon
Powershift: India-China Relations in a Multipolar World by Zorawar Daulet Singh
Fateful Triangle: How China Shaped US‑India Relations by Tanvi Madan
US and China
On China by Henry Kissinger
The Long Game: China’s Grand Strategy to Displace American Order by Rush Doshi
Two Kinds of Time by Graham Peck
Mearsheimer, J. (2010). The Gathering Storm: China’s Challenge to U.S. Power in Asia. The Chinese Journal of International Politics, 3(4), pp.381–396.
Fardella, E. (2009). The Sino-American Normalization: A Reassessment. Diplomatic History, 33(4), pp.545–578.
Recent popular books on China
Red Roulette: An Insider’s Story of Wealth, Power, Corruption and Vengeance in Today’s China by Desmond Shum
Land of Big Numbers by Te-Ping Chen
Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister: Three Women at the Heart of Twentieth-Century China by Jung Chang
The Scientist and the Spy: A True Story of China, the FBI, and Industrial Espionage by Mara Hvistendahl
Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town by Barbara Demick
This book list was originally published on Aadil Brar’s newsletter Asia Communique.