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China is no longer a Third World country. It is now the world's fastest growing economy. Even after the 2008 Olympics, this fact may come as a shock to many Americans, who continue to think that the Chinese still march around in brown uniforms with red stars on their caps arresting dissidents for wearing capitalist Levis. China has at last count, more than half a billion cell phone users. Indeed, the Chinese are not only the world's leading users of mobile phones, but also the leading suppliers. No Chinese ...
China is no longer a Third World country. It is now the world's fastest growing economy. Even after the 2008 Olympics, this fact may come as a shock to many Americans, who continue to think that the Chinese still march around in brown uniforms with red stars on their caps arresting dissidents for wearing capitalist Levis. China has at last count, more than half a billion cell phone users. Indeed, the Chinese are not only the world's leading users of mobile phones, but also the leading suppliers. No Chinese student goes without one and even a donkey cart driver chatting away on a mobile is not an uncommon sight.
China's educated New Generation is possibly the most highly motivated force since the post-World War II generation in America. The young people of China are the next wave of a flourishing Chinese middle class now estimated as 13.5 % of the population, and expected to be 600 million strong by 2015, according toBusiness Week. These young people want to drive cars like ours, live in houses like ours, own condos near the beach, wear designer clothes, and carry cell phones, iPods, camcorders, digital cameras, and MP3 players, just like Americans. Tens of millions already do.
During a thirty-month stay in Chinabetween 2004 and 2007, Ayres was presented to soldiers straight out of boot camp, toasted by military generals and governors, invited to parties with local leaders as a ""foreign expert and dignitary,"" and begged to counsel dissidents and the lovelorn. He rode buses jammed with peasants hoping that they would actually be paid at the end of the month. He dickered with farmers in open markets and street vendors desperate to make ends meet. He dealt with smooth, savvy merchants in upscale department stores; and debated policy with Communist Party bosses. This revised paperback edition of the author's earlier work, A Billion to One, is a vivid, intimate account of China as it is today.
Acknowledgments Introduction 1. The Offer 2. Sports Day in China (Part I) 3. The Governor’s Banquet 4. The Young Soldiers or the Freshman Army 5. The Joke’s on Wu (Gusher) 6. Rush Hour, China Style 7. The Best Medicine 8. Starving in China? Get Real 9. The Junk Food Invasion 10. Things You Won’t Find in China 11. Things You Will Find in China (Like It or Not) 12. Music to Their Ears (If Not Ours) 13. Cuowu: The Mistake 14. The Author Meets a Master, and Almost His Maker 15. The Christmas Crusaders 16. A Love Story 17. The New Year Explodes 18. Shanghai’d in Beijing 19. A Hainan Fish Tale 20. Dragon Festival Day 21. You Can Get There from Here (But Try Getting Back!) 22. The Chinese Information Defi cit Disorder 23. The Children, the Children 24. Thanksgiving in Purgatory 25. No Sex Please, We’re Chinese 26. Rising Nationalism as the Olympic Buildup Continues 27. The Two-Star Two-Step 1 28. The Play’s the Thing 29. Media Savvy 30. Mr. Wei and the Chinese Teamsters 31. The Author Breaks a Taboo 32. The Korean Connection 33. The Russian Connection 34. Sports Day in China (Part II): A Walk in the Park 35. The Guangzhou Shuffle 36. Harbin, Fall, 2006 37. Look Homeward, Angel Epilogue: Airports, Baggage, and People in High Places
Posted May 2, 2010
Despite rapidly expanding globalization, China remains terra incognita for most Americans. Gene Ayres does all of us a favor by parting the silk curtain so that we can take an eye-opening look at the vibrant New China. He gives us a boots-on-the-ground (God, I hate that overused expression), yin and yang account of this burgeoning powerhouse, using the keen eye of a novelist and the open heart of an innocent abroad. Ayres reports it all-the good, the bad, and the ugly-bringing to his subject sharp insights and honest emotions that run from love to disgust. This book may be pigeonholed as sociology, but it's more than that. It's a highly readable narrative animated with humanity of all stripes and a story enlivened by the author's own journey as a stranger in a strange land. After reading this timely book, you may find that many things remain curious and strange in today's China, but it will be a lot less inscrutable.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.