Facebook pixel School of Public Policy Seminar Series on America's Role in a Perilous World | Pepperdine School of Public Policy Skip to main content
Pepperdine | School of Public Policy

School of Public Policy Seminar Series on America's Role in a Perilous World

US and China flag

Event Details

Thursday, March 21, 2024
Noon - 1:00 PM

LC Room 159
Pepperdine University
Malibu, CA 


For more information about this event, please email sppevents@pepperdine.edu, or call 310.506.7490.

The Hundred-Year Marathon: 
China's Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower

Join the SPP community in a discussion with Dr. Michael Pillsbury,  author of The Hundred-Year Marathon: China's Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower. One US government's leading China expert, Pillsbury, will reveal 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 in 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 US 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 US 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. This reformed strategy will require us to view 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.

SPP Students: this event qualifies for 1 Professional Development Credit.

About the Speaker

Michael Pillsbury headshot

Born in California in 1945, Michael Pillsbury was educated at Stanford University (BA in History with Honors in Social Thought) and Columbia University (MA, PhD). Major academic advisers to Pillsbury at Columbia were Zbigniew Brzezinski and Michel Oksenberg, who later played key roles in the Jimmy Carter administration on policy toward both China and Afghanistan. Pillsbury studied the art and practice of bureaucratic politics with Roger Hilsman, President John Kennedy’s intelligence director at the State Department and the author of Politics Of Policy Making In Defense and Foreign Affairs. At Stanford, Pillsbury’s academic mentor was Mark Mancall, author of two books on the influence of ancient traditions on Chinese foreign policy.

In 1969-1970 Pillsbury was the assistant political affairs officer at the United Nations. From 1971-72, he was a doctoral dissertation fellow for the National Science Foundation in Taiwan, and from 1973-1977, Pillsbury was an analyst at the Social Science Department at RAND. In 1978, Pillsbury was a research fellow at the Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University.

During the Reagan administration, Pillsbury was the assistant under secretary of defense for policy planning and responsible for implementation of the program of covert aid known as the Reagan Doctrine. In 1975-76, while an analyst at the RAND Corporation, Pillsbury published articles in Foreign Policy and International Security recommending that the United States establish intelligence and military ties with China. The proposal, publicly commended by Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger, and James Schlesinger, later became US policy during the Carter and Reagan administrations.

Pillsbury served on the staff of four US Senate Committees from 1978-1984 and 1986-1991. As a staff member, Pillsbury drafted the Senate Labor Committee version of the legislation that enacted the US Institute of Peace in 1984. He also assisted in drafting the legislation to create the National Endowment for Democracy and the annual requirement for a DOD report on Chinese military power.

In 1992, under President George H. W. Bush, Pillsbury was special assistant for Asian affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, reporting to Andrew W. Marshall, director of net assessment. Pillsbury is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.