Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Recently written, and reviewed, books on China

In the current issue of The New York Review of Books, Christian Caryl has reviewed seven recently published books on China.  This review is a must-read for amateur Sinologists and/or those interested in what the Chinese government is doing.  After discussing the various interests and approaches of the authors, Caryl says
"From my own years in the region, I’m inclined to think that the experience of the other East Asian countries—which Deng privately regarded as practical models for what he wanted to do with his own—throws a great deal of light on where China is headed now. Consider, for a moment, the city of Shenzhen. Back in 1979, when the CCP decided to designate it as one of the first four “Special Economic Zones” in the country, Shenzhen was home to about 80,000 people, most of them fishermen or farmers. Today the place has a population of just under nine million, a bit more than New York City’s. The workforce that fills its countless factories is drawn from China’s immense “floating population” of migrant workers desperate to escape the poverty of rural life. Virtually everyone who lives in Shenzhen comes from somewhere else. And since all Shenzheners are outsiders, they tend to speak to each other in Mandarin Chinese rather than the Cantonese dialect that prevails in most of surrounding Guangdong Province and Hong Kong." There is no act of innocence or accident or incident by the Chinese government, only acts of calculation.

Another book of interest to China watchers is 
The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers by Richard McGregor.  A thought-provoking review by Slavoj Zizek can be read in the London Review of Books.

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