Tuesday, September 28, 2010

China: Sino-phila, and A Consistent Contradiction For Foreigners

China is once again in all the news and headlines: a trade war is imminent, US congress declarations, Yuan undervalued, etc, etc. The fabulous autor and derivatives expert Satyajit Das writes in his blog that China may be an “internally consistent contradiction” for foreigners. "The rise of China fascinates politicians, policymakers, businessmen and interested foreigners. Each is looking to understand China from its own perspective and for its own benefit, usually monetary, political or economic".

His comments are made in his latest book reviews in his blog, where he reviews three books on China. Peter Hessler's “Country Driving: Three Journeys Across A Changing China”; Richard McGregor's “The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers”; and Richard Baum's “China Watcher: Confessions of a Peking Tom”; University of Washington Press.

Mr. Das is the well-know author is the absoutely fabulous book, Traders Guns and Money, which we reviewed here (A Must Read):

Traders, Guns, and Money: Everything You Wanted to Know About How Banks Rip You and Each Other Off

Mr. Das writes: "The rising economic importance of China has led to an increase in “sino-phila” or “sino-phobia”, depending on political persuasion and the issue. The rise in books and “experts” seeking the “explain” China attest to this interest".

These are short excerpts of his reviews.

Peter Hessler's “Country Driving applies a distinctly American form – “the road movie” – to China. The book contains three episodes – a journey along the Great Wall, life in a “weekender” in a semi-rural setting outside Beijing and time spent around the industrial zones of Wenzhou. Curiously, the “driving” of the title features heavily only in the first story but makes “guest” appearances in the remainder of the book". “Country Driving” is an interesting foreigner’s view of China.

Richard Macgregor’s The Party is a fascinating portrait of the internal workings of the Chinese Communist Party. Head of the Beijing bureau of the Financial Times, Mr. McGregor illustrates how the Party controls every aspect of Chinese life in considerable detail. “The Party” examines the relationships between the Party, the state, business and military. It examines how the Party runs the country through its control of personnel (through the Orwellian titled “Central Organisation Department”) and Party Cells implanted in every business and government department.

Richard Baum, a respected and long-time China scholar, provides an at times irreverent and always personal perspective on forty years of dealing with China.

Baum’s The Watcher book  is "chronological and autobiographical. He traces the emergence of China from its post War centrally controlled, socialist isolationism into a more market oriented world power. The journey takes in key events: the 1970’s Xidan Democracy Wall, the move to a more oriented market economy under Deng after the death of Mao and the removal of the Gang of Four, the set back of the Tiananmen Square massacre and the return to market reforms following Deng’s famous 1992 Southern Tour".

Here are the links to all three books on Amazon:

For full reviews, please see Mr. Das's blog,

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