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Oxford University Book Talk

Wednesday, June 19, 2019 – Oxford, UK – China Centre, Lucina Ho Seminar Room

American society is angrier, more fragmented, and more polarized than at any time since the Civil War. We harbour deep insecurities about our economic future, our place in the world, our response to terrorism and our deeply dysfunctional government. Over the next several years, Benjamin Shobert says, these four insecurities will be perverted and projected onto China in an attempt to shift blame for errors entirely our own making. These mis-directions will be satisfying in the short term but will eventually destabilize the global world that businesses, consumers and governments have taken for granted for the last forty years. These insecurities will usher in an age of geopolitical uncertainty characterized by regional conflict and increasing economic dislocation.

In Blaming China: It Might Feel Good but It Won’t Fix America’s Economy (Potomac Books, 2018), Shobert explores how America’s attitudes toward China have changed and how our economic anxieties and political dysfunction have laid the foundation for turning our collective frustrations away from acknowledging the consequences of our own poor decisions. Shobert argues that unless we address these problems, a disastrous chapter in American life is right around the corner, one in which Americans will decide that conflict with China is the only sensible option. After framing how the American public thinks about China, Shobert offers two alternative paths forward. He proposes steps that businesses, governments and individuals can take to potentially stop and reverse America’s path to a dystopian future.

Benjamin Shobert leads strategy at Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence and Research’s (AI&R) Healthcare NExT business unit. Prior to joining Microsoft, he was the founder and managing director of Rubicon Strategy Group, a strategy consulting service focused on market access, government affairs, and regulatory analysis work in China and across Southeast Asia. He remains a senior associate at the National Bureau of Asian Research, a Washington, DC, think tank. He is a regular columnist for Forbes and has appeared on CNBC Asia’s Morning Squawk Box, CCTV, CNN, and ABC World News. His writing has been featured on CNBC and in China Business Review, Fortune Magazine (China), Harvard Asia Quarterly, Slate, Yale University’s China Hands magazine, and many other publications.