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The Hundred-Year Marathon
Cover of The Hundred-Year Marathon
The Hundred-Year Marathon
China's Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower
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One of the U.S. government's leading China experts reveals the hidden strategy fueling that country's rise – and how Americans have been seduced into helping China overtake us as the world's leading superpower.

For more than forty years, the United States has played an indispensable role helping the Chinese government build a booming economy, develop its scientific and military capabilities, and take its place on the world stage, in the belief that China's rise will bring us cooperation, diplomacy, and free trade. But what if the "China Dream" is to replace us, just as America replaced the British Empire, without firing a shot?

Based on interviews with Chinese defectors and newly declassified, previously undisclosed national security documents, The Hundred-Year Marathon reveals China's secret strategy to supplant the United States as the world's dominant power, and to do so by 2049, the one-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic. Michael Pillsbury, a fluent Mandarin speaker who has served in senior national security positions in the U.S. government since the days of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, draws on his decades of contact with the "hawks" in China's military and intelligence agencies and translates their documents, speeches, and books to show how the teachings of traditional Chinese statecraft underpin their actions. He offers an inside look at how the Chinese really view America and its leaders – as barbarians who will be the architects of their own demise.

Pillsbury also explains how the U.S. government has helped – sometimes unwittingly and sometimes deliberately – to make this "China Dream" come true, and he calls for the United States to implement a new, more competitive strategy toward China as it really is, and not as we might wish it to be. The Hundred-Year Marathon is a wake-up call as we face the greatest national security challenge of the twenty-first century.

One of the U.S. government's leading China experts reveals the hidden strategy fueling that country's rise – and how Americans have been seduced into helping China overtake us as the world's leading superpower.

For more than forty years, the United States has played an indispensable role helping the Chinese government build a booming economy, develop its scientific and military capabilities, and take its place on the world stage, in the belief that China's rise will bring us cooperation, diplomacy, and free trade. But what if the "China Dream" is to replace us, just as America replaced the British Empire, without firing a shot?

Based on interviews with Chinese defectors and newly declassified, previously undisclosed national security documents, The Hundred-Year Marathon reveals China's secret strategy to supplant the United States as the world's dominant power, and to do so by 2049, the one-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic. Michael Pillsbury, a fluent Mandarin speaker who has served in senior national security positions in the U.S. government since the days of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, draws on his decades of contact with the "hawks" in China's military and intelligence agencies and translates their documents, speeches, and books to show how the teachings of traditional Chinese statecraft underpin their actions. He offers an inside look at how the Chinese really view America and its leaders – as barbarians who will be the architects of their own demise.

Pillsbury also explains how the U.S. government has helped – sometimes unwittingly and sometimes deliberately – to make this "China Dream" come true, and he calls for the United States to implement a new, more competitive strategy toward China as it really is, and not as we might wish it to be. The Hundred-Year Marathon is a wake-up call as we face the greatest national security challenge of the twenty-first century.

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Excerpts-
  • Copyright © 2015 by Michael Pillsbury Introduction

    Wishful Thinking

    "Deceive the heavens to cross the ocean."
    The Thirty-Six Stratagems

    At noon on November 30, 2012, beneath a clear late-autumn sky, Wayne Clough, the white-bearded, affable secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, appeared before a collection of cameras and microphones. As he spoke, a cold wind blew across the National Mall. The audience stood bundled in their overcoats as a representative of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held aloft a mysterious gold medal. The Smithsonian's honored guest that day was the famed Chinese artist Cai Guo Qiang, who had been feted the night before at a tony gala inside the Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art—an event cohosted by my wife, Susan. Some four hundred guests, among them House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Princess Michael of Kent, and the seventy-four-year-old widow of the shah of Iran, clinked glasses to celebrate the Chinese-American relationship and to catch a glimpse of Cai, who had won international acclaim for his awe-inspiring fireworks display during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Cai was known to celebrate Chinese symbols with performance art, and had once used lighted fires to extend the Great Wall by ten kilometers so it could be better seen from space. Our evening gala raised more than $1 million for the Smithsonian and made the social pages of various newspapers and magazines.1

    The following day, as Cai was introduced, he was dressed in a Western-style suit, gray overcoat, and orange-red scarf. A trim, handsome man with graying hair, he looked out upon the Mall and the subject of his latest piece of performance art, a four-story-tall Christmas tree decorated with two thousand explosive devices.

    As Cai twisted a handheld trigger, his audience watched the tree explode before their eyes, with thick black smoke emerging from the branches. Cai twisted the trigger again, and the tree exploded a second time, then a third. The five-minute display sent pine needles across the vast lawn in all directions and dense black smoke—symbolizing China's invention of gunpowder—billowing up the façade of the Smithsonian's iconic red sandstone castle.2 It would take two months to clean up the debris and residue left by the explosion.

    I don't know if any of the guests contemplated why they were watching a Chinese artist blow up a symbol of the Christian faith in the middle of the nation's capital less than a month before Christmas. In that moment, I'm not sure that even I appreciated the subversion of the gesture; I clapped along with the rest of the audience. Perhaps sensing the potential controversy, a museum spokesman told the Washington Post, "The work itself is not necessarily about Christmas."3 Indeed, the museum labeled Cai's performance simply, "Explosive Event," which, if one thinks about it, is not much more descriptive than what Cai called it on his own website: "Black Christmas Tree."4

    Secretary Clinton's aide waved the gold medal for the press corps to see, as Cai smiled modestly. He had just been given the State Department's Medal of Arts, the first of its kind, which was presented to the artist by Clinton herself, along with $250,000, courtesy of the American taxpayer. The medal was awarded, she said, for the artist's "contributions to the advancement of understanding and diplomacy."5 Cai seemed to agree with the sentiment: "All artists are like diplomats," he said. "Sometimes art can do things that politics cannot."6

    I was a little suspicious and mentioned Cai the next day during a secret meeting with a senior Chinese government defector. He was...

About the Author-
  • Michael Pillsbury is the director of the Center on Chinese Strategy at the Hudson Institute and has served in presidential administrations from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama. Educated at Stanford and Columbia Universities, he is a former analyst at the RAND Corporation and research fellow at Harvard and has served in senior positions in the Defense Department and on the staff of four U.S. Senate committees. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    November 15, 2014
    A presentation of China's hidden agenda grounded in the author's longtime work at the U.S. Defense Department.Since his recruitment into lofty intelligence circles as a young China expert in 1969, Council on Foreign Relations member Pillsbury (China Debates the Future Security Environment, 2004, etc.) has been privy to the debriefings of various Soviet spies and Chinese dissidents who have clearly warned of China's aim to surpass America as world leader in time for the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the Communist People's Republic: 2049. Yet America has not listened. Once also a "Panda hugger," as he calls this group of "happy barbarians gleefully ignorant of the deeply subversive" aims of China, Pillsbury has changed his view, as he demonstrates in this systematic destruction of the well-accepted Western notion of China as a martyr and welfare state. A student of Mandarin, the author notes that the Chinese speak in a "secret code" difficult for outsiders to decipher. The assumptions of this "constructive engagement crowd," which developed from the Nixon-Kissinger entente of 1971, include the idea that "engagement brings cooperation" and that China is "on the road to democracy"-both false. The truth can be found in the statecraft primer Mao Zedong cherished close to him from the Long March until his death, The General Mirror for the Aid of Government, containing the stratagems favored by the Warring States period dating from 4000 B.C. These Darwinian lessons, readily grasped by the wave of hawks directing China policy since the 1990s, who gained the upper hand over the reformers, encompass all kinds of sneaky tactics-e.g., stealing your opponent's secrets. Perhaps most galling in Pillsbury's findings is the degree of demonization of the U.S. taught regularly in Chinese institutions, without any positive sense of American historical contributions to China's growth. Fodder for concerned thought, with a dollop of paranoia.

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • The Christian Science Monitor

    "Despite dealing with a weighty subject, Pillsbury says everything that he wants to say . . . [in] this highly readable book. It deserves to be widely read and debated."

  • Foreign Affairs

    Pungently written and rich in detail, this book deserves to enter the mainstream of debate over the future of U.S.-Chinese relations."
  • Kirkus Reviews

    A presentation of China's hidden agenda grounded in the author's longtime work at the U.S. Defense Department.... Fodder for concerned thought."
  • Robert Kagan, author of The World America Made and Of Paradise and Power

    This is without question the most important book written about Chinese strategy and foreign policy in years. Michael Pillsbury has spent more than four decades for the Pentagon and the CIA talking to and learning from a core of Chinese 'hard-liners' who may be the driving force behind Chinese foreign policy today under Xi Jinping. Based on meticulous scholarship and written in lively, engaging prose, this book offers a sobering corrective to what has long been the dominant, soothing narrative of Sino-American cooperation."
  • R. James Woolsey, former Director of Central Intelligence and chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies The Hundred-Year Marathon is based on work that Michael Pillsbury did for the CIA that landed him the Director's Exceptional Performance Award. It is a fascinating chronicle of his odyssey from the ranks of the 'panda-huggers' to a principled, highly informed, and lonely stance alerting us to China's long-term strategy of achieving dominance. He shows that we face a clever, entrenched, and ambitious potential enemy, suffused with the shrewdness of Sun Tzu conducting a determined search for the best way to sever our Achilles' heel. We have vital work to do, urgently."
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China's Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower
Michael Pillsbury
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