Since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, five men have principally shaped the ruling Chinese Communist Party and the nation: Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, and Xi Jinping. David Shambaugh analyzes the personal and professional experiences that shaped each leader and argues that their distinct leadership styles had profound influences on Chinese politics.

David Shambaugh is Gaston Sigur Professor of Asian Studies, Political Science, & International Affairs and the founding director of the China Policy Program in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. Before joining the GW faculty, Professor Shambaugh taught Chinese politics at the University of London’s School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS) and was editor of The China Quarterly.

He also worked at the U.S. Department of State and National Security Council. He served on the board of directors of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, U.S. Asia-Pacific Council, and other public policy and scholarly organizations. A frequent commentator in the international media, he sits on numerous editorial boards, and has been a consultant to governments, research institutions, foundations, universities, corporations, banks, and investment funds. Professor Shambaugh has published more than 30 books and 300 articles. His latest book, China’s Leaders: From Mao to Now(Polity Press, 2021), is now available in hardback.

The Harvard on China Podcast is hosted and produced by James Gethyn Evans at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. Research for this episode was provided by Connor Giersch, and the episode was edited by Mike Pascarella.

Read a transcript of “China’s Leaders from Mao to Now, with David Shambaugh”opens PDF file .

Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies