The China Learning Curve
and Democracy Road
How America should address two of its most critical foreign policy challenges - China and the support of democracy around the world
By Daniel R. Joseph
In the midst of an election for which foreign policy has played an unusually large role, Daniel R. Joseph has produced both a book, The China Learning Curve: Critical Differences and a related award-winning documentary, Democracy Road, that provides unique insights into two of America's most critical foreign policy challenges - how to engage China and how to support democracy while avoiding the failure we've seen in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
The China Learning Curve: Understanding the key aspects of China that should drive policy
China has been front and center in the presidential campaign and for good reason - from trade to cyber espionage to the South China Sea there is no shortage of critical issues relative to China. Daniel tells us that the first step in any good foreign policy is understanding the counter-party. In The China Learning Curve, Daniel starts by describing how China is different from us - mostly it's economic structure (transitioning from communism) and its culture (becoming more liberal). Daniel then explores how those differences should impact our dealings with China, from policy to business. Themes that Daniel's analysis address include the following:
- Why has China outperformed Russia, India, and all other developing countries and what does that tell us about what we should expect from China in the future?
- How is China likely to react to a more protectionist America?
- How much of a security and military threat will China become?
Democracy Road: Exploring culture, the rule of law, and why we struggle to spread democracy
In Democracy Road, which was recently awarded the prize for Best Documentary Short at the New York-Los Angeles (NYLA) International Film Festival, builds on the concept of culture which Daniel addresses in his book. In the film, Daniel tells us that while Americans across the political spectrum are passionate about supporting democracy, in the wake of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Arab Spring, all of which yielded little in the way of democracy, Americans are also increasingly leery of nation-building and are skeptical of America's efforts to support democracy around the world. Focusing particularly on culture, the rule of law, and the importance of economic development to democratization, Daniel explains why we have to rethink our approach to dealing with the developing world and supporting democracy along the way. Themes that Democracy Road relates to include:
- Why nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan didn't work;
- Why the Arab Spring didn't produce much democracy;
- Why America is having trouble spreading democracy;
- Why China is actually more democratic than India; and
- Why our immigration policy needs to take culture into account.
Below is a link to a private screening of the documentary (10 minutes long) and also the website for the documentary which provides additional information about this theme.
About the Author: Daniel R. Joseph is an author, filmmaker, and consultant who helps companies do business internationally and who is passionate about educating people as to how countries really develop and the crucial role played by culture. Currently founder of consulting firm The China Learning Curve, Dan lived in China for more than 10 years and has a very broad business background. Dan has written two books on China.