The Transpacific Experiment : How China and California Collaborate and Compete for Our Future

Matt Sheehan

Counterpoint, 2019

Agent: Elise Capron

A timely, vital account of California's unique relationship with China through the exploits of the entrepreneurs, activists, and politicians driving transformations with international implications. 

Tensions between the world's superpowers are mounting in Washington D.C. and Beijing. But between these hubs of high-level politics, an entirely new reality is emerging. The People's Republic of China and the state of California maintain robust and interdependent socio-economic exchanges that reverberate across the globe, and these interactions make California a microcosm of the most important international relationship of the 21st century. 

In The Transpacific Experiment, journalist Matt Sheehan?The Huffington Post's first China correspondent?chronicles the real people who are making these transpacific connections. Sheehan tells the story of a small-town Southern Californian mayor who believes a Chinese electric bus factory will save his town from meth labs and skinheads. He follows a celebrated Chinese artificial intelligence researcher who leaves Google to create a Chinese startup, challenging his former employer from behind the Great Firewall. Sheehan joins a tour bus of wealthy Chinese families shopping for homes in the Bay Area, shedding light on disgruntled neighbors and raising important questions about California's own prejudices and perceptions of immigration and the American Dream. 

Through Sheehan's on-the-ground reporting, these up-close-and-personal narratives move from movie sets in the "Hollywood of China" to San Francisco housing projects, to Chinese immigrants who support Donald Trump. Each of these stories lays bare the new reality of 21st century superpowers: the closer these countries get to one another, the more personal the frictions become.


Amazon's "Best History Books of the Month"

"Judging by his intelligent first book, Sheehan is a reporter we’ll look to in years ahead as we try to understand the nuances of the ever-shifting China-U.S. relationship."
San Francisco Chronicle

"Sheehan cuts right to the heart of the relationship between Silicon Valley and China: the tangled history, the current tensions, and the uncertain future. The Transpacific Experiment is a must-read."
Kai-Fu Lee, former president of Google China and founder of Sinovation Ventures.

“A revealing, refreshing dive into one of the most telling nexuses of the U.S.–China relationship. Sheehan’s colorful odyssey from college campuses to Beijing start-up land is a well-drawn portrait of how the two countries are forging our economic future."
Te-Ping Chen, reporter for The Wall Street Journal

“A timely and important book. Matt Sheehan observes and navigates with skill the shifting currents of the relationship between California and China, the most important economic underpinning at times both uniting and dividing the United States and China. From Silicon Valley to Hollywood, from college campuses to real estate brokers to struggling industrial zones, Sheehan chronicles with aplomb the Chinese talent and capital that has arrived over the past decade and the questions growing within both nations about their relationship with each other, with California, as ever, at the frontier.”
Duncan Clark, author of Alibaba: The House that Jack Ma Built

"Timely reading in an era of looming trade wars and the decline of American economic supremacy."
Kirkus Reviews

"Nuanced, layered, and engaging, Matt Sheehan’s The Transpacific Experiment offers a fresh take on how China’s rise affects America, and how America affects China’s rise, through rich reporting in his home state of California, with a perspective gleaned from years of living and reporting in China." 
Mary Kay Magistad, former China correspondent for NPR and for PRI/BBC’s The World, current host of the Whose Century Is It? podcast.