Susan L. Shirk is an expert on Chinese politics and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State during the Clinton administration. She was in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs (People's Republic of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mongolia). She is currently a professor at the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at the University of California, San Diego. She is also a Senior Director of Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm, where she assists clients with issues related to East Asia. She is married to Samuel L. Popkin, another prominent UCSD professor.
She received her B.A. in political science from Mount Holyoke College in 1967, her M.A. in Asian studies at the University of California, Berkeley in 1968, and her Ph.D. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1974. She first traveled to China in 1971 as a member of the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars. 
Shirk is the Ho Miu Lam Endowed Chair of China and Pacific Relations in the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at the University of California, San Diego and Director of the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC). She heads the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue, a track II diplomatic initiative.
- China: Fragile Superpower: How China's Internal Politics Could Derail Its Peaceful Rise, 2007
- How China Opened Its Door: The Political Success of the PRC's Foreign Trade and Investment Reform, 1994
- The Political Logic of Economic Reform in China, 1993
- The Challenge of China and Japan: Politics and Development in East Asia, 1985