BYLINE: Christine Clark

Newswise — Victor C. Shih has been appointed as the new director of the 21st Century China Center at the University of California San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy, effective July 1, 2023.

Shih, the Ho Miu Lam Chair in China and Pacific Relations at the School of Global Policy and Strategy, is a highly regarded scholar with expertise in a broad range of subjects related to China.

As director, Shih will oversee the 21st Century China Center, one of the top research centers on China, as it continues to produce academic research and inform policy discussions on China and U.S.-China relations. The center’s mission is to develop and disseminate impactful, evidence-based research about China and to enhance U.S.-China mutual understanding by advancing scholarly collaboration, convening policy discussions and actively communicating with policymakers and the general public.

Shih is replacing Susan Shirk, who is stepping down after serving as founding chair of the 21st Century China Center since it was established in 2011. Shirk will continue to be an active member of the center, especially in policy-related areas.

“Dr. Victor Shih’s deep expertise in Chinese politics and U.S.-China relations uniquely positions him to make an immediate impact in his new role as director,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “We are proud of the impressive trajectory of the 21st Century China Center under the transformative leadership of Dr. Susan Shirk, which has established UC San Diego and the School of Global Policy and Strategy as one of the world’s top destinations for advancing research and policy on China and U.S.-China relations—all for the benefit of our global society.

Shih’s extensive knowledge on China ranges from elite politics, to banking and finance as well as foreign policy. He is the creator of one of the best-known biographical databases covering Chinese political elites from 1921 to the present, including central committee members, provincial-level officials and military elites.

He has served as a principal in The Carlyle Group’s global market strategy group, where he analyzed China’s banking and property sector, as well as macroeconomic and foreign exchange policies. He was the first person to estimate local government debt in China and identify it as a source of fragility for the Chinese system.

“Shih’s wealth of experience and knowledge make him an ideal fit to lead our 21st Century China Center,” said School of Global Policy and Strategy dean Caroline Freund. “We are living in a time when the interaction of Asia and the Americas becomes the pivotal point for global dynamics and no relationship is more important than that of two most consequential global powers, the U.S. and China. Under Shih’s leadership, the China center will continue its critical mission to conduct cutting edge research on China and enhance U.S.-China mutual understanding by educating people on both sides of the Pacific.”

Shih was born and raised in Hong Kong and moved to the U.S. when he was 12 years old.  He graduated summa cum laude from the George Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in East Asian studies and received a Ph.D. in government from Harvard University.

“I am honored to be appointed as director of the 21st Century China Center,” said Shih. “I look forward to working with the talented team at UC San Diego and engaging with fellow academic scholars and the broader policy community and the public to deepen our understanding of China's politics, society, economics and foreign policy.”

Shirk’s involvement with the center will include continuing to lead the UC San Diego Forum on U.S.-China relations and the Task Force on U.S.-China Policy.  She intends to be actively involved in the center’s fundraising and development efforts.

“I have known Victor for many years as a colleague and friend and I am constantly benefiting from his knowledge of China’s political-economy and policy-making,” said Shirk. “He has a deep understanding of how China works at every level and a broad set of acquaintances in China. I am delighted that he is taking on the leadership of our center and I look forward to working with him closely.”

Shih is the author of several books, including “Factions and Finance in China: Elite Conflict and Inflation” and “Coalitions of the Weak: Elite Politics in China from Mao’s Stratagem to the Rise of Xi.” He has also published articles in leading academic journals, such as The American Political Science Review, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Politics and China Quarterly.

For more information about the 21st Century China Center, visit its website at