MIT CIS research scientist Eric Heginbotham PhD 04, LBJ professor Joshua Eisenman, publish book on China's engagement with the developing world

“China Steps Out tracks the important shifts in China’s diplomacy, including the increased weight Beijing places on political and economic relationships in the developing world..."
January 29, 2018

CAMBRIDGE, MAJanuary 29, 2018—Beijing’s strategy toward developing countries is the focus of China Steps Out: Beijing’s Major Power Engagement with the Developing World, a new book co-edited by Eric Heginbotham PhD 04, principal research scientist at the MIT Center for International Studies and Joshua Eisenman, an assistant professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.

China Steps Out is a brilliant guide for both policy-makers and academics alike. The authors masterfully detail China's strategic goals and expansive relations with the developing world through comparative regional analyses and unique insights,” said Ambassador Paula Dobriansky, former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs.

China Steps Out, published by Routledge, features contributions by a diverse group of recognized experts who independently analyze and explain China’s engagement in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, Africa, Middle East and Latin America and evaluates their effectiveness. In addition to their chapters on China in Southest Asia and Africa, respectively, Heginbotham and Eisenman co-authored the volume’s introduction and concluding chapters. They unpack and summarize how China pursues its objectives, evaluates how effective those efforts have been, and how other countries perceive and respond to China’s growing influence. Through the application of a comparative politics research design, they differentiate China’s approach based on each region’s economic, political, military and social characteristics. In this way, Heginbotham and Eisenman were able to identify the unique features of Chinese engagement in each region and the developing world as a whole.

Heginbotham explained that, “China Steps Out tracks the important shifts in China’s diplomacy, including the increased weight Beijing places on political and economic relationships in the developing world; a more differentiated approach to those areas, including a distinction between ‘newly emerging powers’ and others; and its new interest in fostering strategic military relationships in parts of the developing world. These are all parts of Xi Jinping’s ‘major power relations.’”  Heginbotham was the lead author of the RAND Corporation’s China’s Evolving Nuclear Deterrent (2017) and US – China Military Scorecard: Forces, Geography, and the Evolving Balance of Power (2015), as well as co-author of Chinese and Indian Strategic Behavior: Growing Power and Alarm (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Eisenman, who last week provided testimony to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission on themes central to the book said: "This book is perfectly suited to anyone trying to gain a better understanding of China’s strategic intentions in the developing world, particularly the Belt and Road Initiative and what it means for the United States and the world.” Eisenman is the co-author of China and Africa: A Century of Engagement (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012). His next book, Red China’s Green Revolution: Technological Innovation, Institutional Change, and Economic Development Under the Commune, will be released in April 2018 by Columbia University Press.

Book launch events for China Steps Out are scheduled for the Royal United Service Institute in London on March 13, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, on March 22. Additional events are currently being scheduled. 


The Center for International Studies (CIS) supports interna­tional research and education at MIT. It is the home of MIT’s Security Studies Program; the MIT International Science & Technology Initiative, its pioneering global education program; the Program on Emerging Technologies; and seminars and research on migration, South Asia politics, the Middle East, cybersecurity, nuclear weapons, and East Asia. The Center has traditionally been aligned with the social sciences while also working with MIT’s premier science and engineering scholars. CIS produces research that creatively addresses global issues while helping to educate the next generation of global citizens.