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Posted February 15, 2005
Great China book
I loved this book. I can't really explain why, but I love books where you feel like you are along with the author for the ride. I felt that way reading this book. It was like going to China. The author describes the 'New China' in rather cynical terms, but no doubt, the reality on the ground justifies him. One example: the Chinese leader says he wants a 7 % growth rate. Suddenly, all the regions report 7+ % growth rates. Even though agencies in Hong Kong and Singapore are crunching the numbers and showing that energy use on the Mainland has declined in the same period as that so-called 7% growth rate. In other words, the Chinese are 'cooking the books', and the West believes them. The author clearly shows that growth in China is chaotic, and probably dishonest. The China portrayed here is not democratic, or capitalist. Rather, it is a totalitarian country, in which the communist elite manipulates everyone, including all the breathless Western 'China experts'. This book is a real wake-up call for anyone who thinks that WE can manipulate the Chinese. It is the other way around. They are manipulating us. The chapter on how U.S. software and router companies helped the Chinese totalitarian state build up its firewall, to keep democratic information out of China from the Internet was particularly interesting. This is a great China book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 27, 2004
Capitalism, Hold the Democracy
If you've ever felt twinge of cognitive dissonance trying to reconcile glowing accounts of China's warm and fuzzy opening to the west with news of systematic and pervasive government tortures or crazed mobs burning a U.S. consulate, then you should read this book. In a genre dominated by cautious China hands in the know and anti-China hawks who understand little to nothing about the country, Ethan Gutmann's book is a refreshing change. And given the political reality that is China, another book of this sort is hardly likely to come around soon. Having lived in China for three years working and socializing with key expat and local figures, Gutmann witnessed first-hand both the fascinating attractions and the seedy underbelly of this intriguing country. Few journalists who concentrate on China would dare to make the accusations Gutmann does in this book for fear that their access to the country would forever after be blocked. Beyond the singularity of the book's perspective, Losing the New China is simply a great read. Gutmann's entertaining prose and balanced combination of personal anecdotes with well documented arguments liven up subjects that might otherwise prove tedious, such as descriptions of the state's information firewall and high-tech military technology. Most of the book will appeal to intelligent, educated readers, but some of the technical topics might tempt non-specialists to skim at times. I read the book word for word, though, and always found points of interest regarding subjects that were obscure to me. Make no mistake about it, Losing the New China is a damning account of the Chinese state and U.S. business collusion with this repressive government. While Gutmann does intimate an understanding of the Chinese government's often excessive behaviors, his negativity at times resembles a wholesale condemnation of modern Chinese society. And although I do think this might be the only weakness of the book, sometimes it takes a harsh critic to wake us up to harsh realities. For fear that visas might be denied, academics rarely teach this side of China in the classroom. (I was an East Asian studies major in university myself.) However, to balance the positive images that often come across in the press, I believe this book would make an excellent addition to university courses on contemporary Chinese society.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 30, 2004
This is much, much more than a book about doing business in China. ¿Losing the New China¿ should be required reading for anyone planning to spend time in China. It shows exactly how Beijing is, as Gutmann says, his generation¿s ¿El Dorado,¿ and asks if they should perhaps think about choosing another destination. The story of Gutmann¿s three years in Beijing is about managing expectations of what goes on in American businesses in China, and I am not just talking about market share and money¿I mean what really goes on, every incredible and often deeply disturbing detail. This book is for anyone who thinks of China as the next big thing, the new thing, or just as anything period.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 17, 2010
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