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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Although conventional wisdom has it that China is the world's most promising market and the nation most likely to eventually challenge U.S. economic might, lawyer and journalist Gordon G. Chang offer a contrary view in this compelling, insightful, and often surprising book. Chang cites many obvious reasons for what he sees as China's impending demise, including the restrictions imposed by its many state-owned enterprises, the hidden ramifications of its pending acceptance into the WTO, and the inherent contradiction contained in its desire to isolate and censor its own people (from the Internet to satellite television to the Falun Gong) while also wanting to play a leading role on the world stage. But he also reaches beyond these for something less tangible: the ideological underpinnings of a government that has achieved the power to suppress at the expense of developing the capacity to lead.
Chang, who wrote The Coming Collapse of China in secret while working for Citibank in Shanghai, recounts recent Chinese history, analyzes the country's economic infrastructure, and reveals the vulnerabilities that he believes will surface over the next decade. His portrait of a nation whose institutions and penchant for denial are gradually eroding its ability to function is powerfully dramatized by the Tiananmen Square massacre, in which the rulers of the People's Republic turned their weapons against their own citizens. In his recounting of this event, Chang illustrates the deceptiveness and desperation of the government with a quote from Defense Minister Chi Haotian, who, while on an official visit to Washington seven years later, said, "I was the chief of general staff, and I can tell you in a responsible and serious manner that not a single person lost his life in Tiananmen Square."
In illustrating key incidents and trends in the country from Mao's reign onward, Chang paints a portrait of a country consistently in conflict with itself. As he says, "History repeats itself in countries around the world. In China, it not only recurs, it kills the future." Whether or not Chang's predictions ultimately come true, The Coming Collapse of China offers a thought-provoking and important argument. Chang knows he doesn't have all the answers -- in fact, the book is full of questions -- but he does give a fascinating glimpse into the past and possible future of one of the world's most politically powerful and culturally influential countries. (Magdalen Powers)