Dragon Rising: An Inside Look at China Today

Dragon Rising: An Inside Look at China Today

Jasper Becker

Language: English

Pages: 264


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Jasper Becker's book, The Chinese, was hailed as the best single-volume introduction to this enormous, inscrutable society. The Washington Post said, "He has been everywhere and asked every question," describing his conclusions as "right in both details and analysis." Since then, China's role in world affairs has only grown greater.

No nation on Earth is as newsworthy as 21st-century China—and no book could be timelier than Dragon Rising, appearing just as world attention begins to focus on the 2008 Beijing Olympics and China's all-out effort to present itself as a modern world power. As interest grows, Becker is the ideal guide to the profound changes that are already reshaping economic, diplomatic, and military strategies all over the globe.

Intertwining in-depth analysis with revealing anecdotal evidence, Becker addresses every major question. What form will China's government take? How will communism's legacy affect modernization? Can Shanghai's success with urban capitalism be replicated elsewhere? Will wholesale cultural and economic change be resisted by the millions facing sudden transition from an authoritarian state to a market-driven society? How will the new China cope with pollution, unemployment, and voracious demand for energy? Each chapter examines a specific region and such key local issues as poverty, minority unrest, and official corruption, then places them in the broader context of Chinese society as a whole.

Vividly illustrated with photographs that capture the paradox of an ancient culture remaking itself into a dynamic consumer society, Dragon Rising is a wonderfully written, well-rounded, wide-ranging portrait of China's problems and prospects.















successful economy in the entire Soviet bloc. At one time East Germany was rated as the world’s seventh largest industrial economy. Even though more than 1.5 trillion dollars have poured into East Germany, that sum has not been enough to save industry from disappearing. None of East Germany’s enterprises survived the competition from West Germany, and the number of people in employment quickly dropped from almost ten million to about six million. Even in 2005, unemployment in East Germany stood

to Soviet blueprints. Even though there was no need to knock them down, Shenyang officials had them demolished along with the much grimmer gray concrete blocks dating from the 1970s. Much of the huge amount of money spent on reviving Shenyang had gone into this construction boom. It had changed the face of Shenyang, but Zhou argued that the money had been misspent or stolen. Most inhabitants, he said, were too poor to buy the new housing. By 1995, nearly 80 percent of the two million workers had

come up with a firm opinion. “What do you mean by catching up?” I countered feebly. “It all depends on what you mean by being modern.” “Well, look at all these new buildings, roads, and cars,” he said proudly. “How much longer will it take until we are developed like America or England?” Beijing’s infrastructure has been transformed over the past dozen years. The rundown medieval city has been wiped away and replaced by a forest of plate glass and steel tower blocks. The highways were jammed

impressive feat than it sounds. Still, although the 1980s hype about robots may have been premature, Japanese companies like Toyota say that the new generation of robots will soon bring domestic production costs down to “Chinese levels.” The Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported in 2004 that new robots developed with Yaskawa Electric Corporation can handle multiple tasks simultaneously with two arms and achieve production efficiencies equal to or better than human workers. Just when

reaches the outside world. What new information has emerged in the decade since I visited Fengyang creates a very bleak picture of growing anger marked by sporadic protests and violent repression. For instance, two Chinese journalists, Wu Chuntao and her husband Chen Guidi, who traveled through rural Anhui, produced a book, A Survey of Chinese Peasants (Zhongguo Nongmin Diaocha), and had this to say: “We have seen unimaginable poverty, unimaginable evil, unimaginable suffering and desperation,

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