China Road: A Journey into the Future of Rising Power

Overview

Route 312 is the Chinese Route 66. It flows three thousand miles from east to west, passing through the factory towns of the coastal areas, through the rural heart of China, then up into the Gobi Desert, where it merges with the Old Silk Road. The highway witnesses every part of the social and economic revolution that is turning China upside down.

In this utterly surprising and deeply personal book, acclaimed National Public Radio reporter Rob...
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Overview

Route 312 is the Chinese Route 66. It flows three thousand miles from east to west, passing through the factory towns of the coastal areas, through the rural heart of China, then up into the Gobi Desert, where it merges with the Old Silk Road. The highway witnesses every part of the social and economic revolution that is turning China upside down.

In this utterly surprising and deeply personal book, acclaimed National Public Radio reporter Rob Gifford, a fluent Mandarin speaker, takes the dramatic journey along Route 312 from its start in the boomtown of Shanghai to its end on the border with Kazakhstan. Gifford reveals the rich mosaic of modern Chinese life in all its contradictions, as he poses the crucial questions that all of us are asking about China: Will it really be the next global superpower? Is it as solid and as powerful as it looks from the outside? And who are the ordinary Chinese people, to whom the twenty-first century is supposed to belong?

Gifford is not alone on his journey. The largest migration in human history is taking place along highways such as Route 312, as tens of millions of people leave their homes in search of work. He sees signs of the booming urban economy everywhere, but he also uncovers many of the country’s frailties, and some of the deep-seated problems that could derail China’s rise.

The whole compelling adventure is told through the cast of colorful characters Gifford meets: garrulous talk-show hosts and ambitious yuppies, impoverished peasants and tragic prostitutes, cell-phone salesmen, AIDS patients, and Tibetan monks. He rides with members of a Shanghai jeep club, hitchhikes across the Gobi desert, andsings karaoke with migrant workers at truck stops along the way.

As he recounts his travels along Route 312, Rob Gifford gives a face to what has historically, for Westerners, been a faceless country and breathes life into a nation that is so often reduced to economic statistics. Finally, he sounds a warning that all is not well in the Chinese heartlands, that serious problems lie ahead, and that the future of the West has become inextricably linked with the fate of 1.3 billion Chinese people.

“Informative, delightful, and powerfully moving . . . Rob Gifford’s acute powers of observation, his sense of humor and adventure, and his determination to explore the wrenching dilemmas of China’s explosive development open readers’ eyes and reward their minds.”
–Robert A. Kapp, president, U.S.-China Business Council, 1994-2004
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Editorial Reviews

Susan L. Shirk
Gifford's book is an account of a two-month trip he took along Route 312, which spans the country from east to west like an oriental Route 66. He draws on the extensive knowledge he acquired during six years of reporting from Beijing for National Public Radio. Although not as adventurous a traveler or as vivid an observer as Colin Thubron (whose Shadow of the Silk Road covers some of the same route), Gifford weaves into his travelogue a crash course in Chinese history, geography, economy and society. To him, China is a land of contrasts, and "for every fact that is true…the opposite is almost always true as well, somewhere in the country."
—The Washington Post
Library Journal
NPR's Beijing bureau chief for six years, Gifford saw just how much China is changing as he traveled along its famed Route 312 from Shanghai to the Kazakhstan border. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786169627
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/28/2007
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 1 MP3, 703 minutes
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Rob Gifford first went to China in 1987 as a twenty-year-old language student. He has spent much of the last twenty years studying and reporting there. From 1999 to 2005, he was the Beijing correspondent of National Public Radio, and he traveled all over China and the rest of Asia reporting for Morning Edition and All Things Considered. He is now NPR’s London bureau chief.
RobertGifford.com
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Table of Contents


Introduction: The Mother Road     xiii
The Promised Land     3
Dislocation     14
Things Flow     28
The Unfinished Revolution     41
"A Single Spark Can Light a Prairie Fire"     51
Silicon Valley     64
"Women Hold Up Half the Sky"     76
"Put the People First"     86
Power     97
The Hermit of Hua Shan     112
Elvis Lives     125
The Last Great Empire     140
Monks and Nomads     153
No Longer Relying on Heaven     165
"We Want to Live!"     177
Respect     194
The End of the Wall     205
The Caves of a Thousand Buddhas     215
Endurance     227
The Great Wall of the Mind     236
"China Is a Colonial Power"     248
From Sea to Shining Sea     259
A Road Is Made     273
Acknowledgments     297
Select Bibliography     301
Index     305
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