Wealth and Power: China's Long March to the Twenty-first Century
Orville Schell, John Delury
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Through a series of lively and absorbing portraits of iconic modern Chinese leaders and thinkers, two of today’s foremost specialists on China provide a panoramic narrative of this country’s rise to preeminence that is at once analytical and personal. How did a nation, after a long and painful period of dynastic decline, intellectual upheaval, foreign occupation, civil war, and revolution, manage to burst forth onto the world stage with such an impressive run of hyperdevelopment and wealth creation—culminating in the extraordinary dynamism of China today?
Wealth and Power answers this question by examining the lives of eleven influential officials, writers, activists, and leaders whose contributions helped create modern China. This fascinating survey begins in the lead-up to the first Opium War with Wei Yuan, the nineteenth-century scholar and reformer who was one of the first to urge China to borrow ideas from the West. It concludes in our time with human-rights advocate and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, an outspoken opponent of single-party rule. Along the way, we meet such titans of Chinese history as the Empress Dowager Cixi, public intellectuals Feng Guifen, Liang Qichao, and Chen Duxiu, Nationalist stalwarts Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek, and Communist Party leaders Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and Zhu Rongji.
The common goal that unites all of these disparate figures is their determined pursuit of fuqiang, “wealth and power.” This abiding quest for a restoration of national greatness in the face of a “century of humiliation” at the hands of the Great Powers came to define the modern Chinese character. It’s what drove both Mao and Deng to embark on root-and-branch transformations of Chinese society, first by means of Marxism-Leninism, then by authoritarian capitalism. And this determined quest remains the key to understanding many of China’s actions today.
By unwrapping the intellectual antecedents of today’s resurgent China, Orville Schell and John Delury supply much-needed insight into the country’s tortured progression from nineteenth-century decline to twenty-first-century boom. By looking backward into the past to understand forces at work for hundreds of years, they help us understand China today and the future that this singular country is helping shape for all of us.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
“Superb . . . beautifully written and neatly structured.”—Financial Times
“[An] engaging narrative of the intellectual and cultural origins of China’s modern rise.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Informative and insightful . . . a must-read for anyone with an interest in the world’s fastest-rising superpower.”—Slate
“It does a better job than most other books of answering a basic question the rest of the world naturally asks about China’s recent rise: What does China want?”—The Atlantic
“The portraits are beautifully written and bring to life not only their subjects but also the mood and intellectual debates of the times in which they lived.”—Foreign Affairs
“Excellent and erudite . . . [The authors] combine scholarly learning with a reportorial appreciation of colorful, revealing details.”—The National Interest
From the Hardcover edition.
process. Anstruther also told Wei how the English government’s revenue came almost entirely from maritime customs, rather than from taxes on land or labor as was the case in China. After the interrogation, Wei drafted an intelligence report, “A Briefing on England,” writing pointedly, “England neither produces nor consumes opium, but rather, by enjoying the profits of opium smoking, leads the West in terms of wealth and power.”26 While Wei was questioning his British prisoner, Lin’s defenses,
with a ten-gallon cowboy hat. When he waved his new hat in the air, the crowd erupted with cheers and rebel yells. As a symbol of China’s new flirtation with the West, donning the Stetson would have sufficed, but Deng then left his seat only to reappear a short while later, this time riding in an old-fashioned horse-drawn stagecoach. As he circled the arena waving like a beauty queen through the coach’s open window, the crowd went into another frenzy of adulation. Through these simple yet
preferred four different principles, namely, “science, democracy, creativity, and independence.” Unfit for Democracy Fang Lizhi’s vision of a democratic China, with its echoes of Wei Jingsheng’s “fifth modernization,” was precisely what Deng was convinced the country did not need. On the few occasions when Deng even hinted at the possible virtues of democratic governance, he had been quick to add, as had so many before him, that the Chinese people were not yet ready for it. Had not the
Science and Mr. Democracy, called for by May Fourth Movement activist Chen Duxiu. Unlike Fang, however, Liu derived his convictions not from scientific rationalism but from a humanistic spirit that left him contemptuous of the impulse to use Western culture “merely as a tool with which to regenerate the Chinese nation.” He called on Chinese to instead adopt the West’s tradition of employing a “critical attitude toward everything.”35 He was concerned with his country’s international status, but in
initiating this program of political self-purification, Mao emphasized that “two principles must be preserved.” These were embodied in an ancient Zhou Dynasty aphorism, “Learn from past mistakes to avoid making new ones” and “cure the disease and save the patient.” Here, as so often, Mao used an ancient historical allusion (never mind its indelibly “feudal” nature) to clarify the logic of his revolutionary point. “Past errors must be exposed with no thought of personal feeling or face,” he