Friday, November 13, 2009

85) Rob Gifford: China Road

Estou lendo este livro de Gifford, na edição italiana:
Cina: Viaggio nell'Impero del futuro
traduzione di Monica Morzenti
(Vicenza: Neri Pozza Editore,2008)

Edição original:
China Road
(New York: Random House, 2007)

O livro nasceu de uma série de programas feitos para a National Public Radio (EUA), objeto do post anterior, e que podem ser ouvidos neste link.
A viagem ocorreu em 2004 e um ano depois, em 2005, ele percorreu novamente a estrada, durante dois meses, seguida de duas visitas a Shanghai e Nanquim.

A bibliografia e as sugestões de leitura são comentadas, de onde recolho estas sugestões para leitura posterior.

De início, dois sites de informação:
Keith Pomeranz and Bin Wong: China and the West:

John Flower: a village in Sechuan province:

Pearl Buck, The Good Earth (1931)

Mildred Cable and Francesca French, The Gobi Desert (Macmillan, 1944); Through Jade Gate and Central Asia: An Account of Journeys in Kansu, Turkestan and the Gobi Desert (Constable, 1927)

Peter Fleming, News from Tartary: A Journey from Peking to Kashmir (London: Jonathan Cape, 1936)

Peter Hopkirk, Foreign Devils on the Silk Road: The Search for the Lost Cities and Treasures of Chinese Central Asia (University of Massachusetts Press, 1984): inside the book in Amazon
(description: The Silk Road, the great trans-Asian highway linking Imperial Rome to China, reached the height of its importance during the T'ang Dynasty. Along it travelled precious cargoes as well as new ideas, art and knowledge. Its oasis towns blossomed into thriving centres of trade. However, as the Chinese lost control of the region, it began to decline to the point where the towns disappeared beneath desert sands. Local legends grew of buried treasure guarded by demons. This is the story of the intrepid adventurers who, at great personal risk, led long-range archaeological raids to the region in the early years of the 20th century. Profiles of such archaeologists as Sir Aurel Stein, who carried off large quantities of priceless wall paintings, sculptures, silks and early manuscripts, augment a narrative which also traces the fate of the works of art that were removed.)

W.J.F. Jeanner, The Tiranny of History: The Roots of China's Crisis (Penguin, 1992)
From Library Journal: Modern Chinese history is a series of crises: the Opium War, the fall of the Qing Dynasty, the Communist takeover, the Cultural Revolution, and the Tiananmen Massacre. The most enduring civilization has been in a turbulent stage for over 100 years. What are the problems? In his "impressionistic" book, Jenner tries to link China's present situation to its past and claims that the fundamental problem is a flaw in Chinese tradition. Confucianism is blamed for economic stagnation, and the traditional family structure is seen as an obstacle to democracy. Jenner even finds the Chinese language an inferior medium of expression. The author, who admits that he "has not tried to present a balanced argument," offers such a bleak depiction of Chinese tradition that he feels the need to remind the reader repeatedly that he is not "anti-Chinese." Jenner's book is also marred by the lack of footnotes or any kinds of bibliographic references to materials used. - Mark Meng , St. John's Univ. Lib., New York.
Product Description: Based on a series of lectures given by Professor Jenner in New Zealand shortly after Tianenmen Square in 1989, this book examines the peculiarities of Chinese history, and of the unique burden that history places on present-day China, which the author sees in a state of serious crisis, possibly even of potential collapse.

James Kynge, China Shakes the World: A Titan's Rise and Troubled Future - And the Challenge for America (Houghton Mifflin, 2006)
Amazon: From Publishers Weekly - Since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, binding its billion-plus population more tightly to the global economic system, the Asian giant's prodigious appetite for food, technology and natural resources has dramatically accelerated profound changes already well underway across the planet. Kynge, the Financial Times's former Beijing bureau chief, makes the voracious "appetites" of the new China his constant concern, as he uncovers the sources of and limitations on the giant country's epochal growth. Beginning with a scene in Germany's postindustrial Ruhr—where a steel mill is sold, deconstructed and shipped more than 5,000 miles for reassembly near the banks of the Yangtze River—Kynge assesses the socioeconomic transformations of China's low "Industrial Revolution–era" labor costs and modern production technology at home and abroad. But for all its world-shaking potential, notes Kynge, "China's endowments are deeply lopsided." Key weaknesses—such as a shortage of arable land, serious environmental devastation and pollution, systemic corruption and a dearth of resources—are conversely helping to ensure that China will have to manage its growing hegemony in a symbiotic manner with partners on the economic and geopolitical playing fields. Despite the subtitle, and a chapter devoted to China's acquisition of U.S. technologies, Kynge focuses at least as much on China's significance for Western Europe. Overall, Kynge's crisp assessment of the dynamics involved is both authoritative and eye-opening. (Sept. 27)
Diligent and Compelling View on China and the World., October 28, 2006
By Peter Senese - James Kynge's 'China Shakes the World: A Titan's Rise and Troubled Future and the Challenge for America' is a completely authoritative and comprehensive study based upon extensive and reliable research of what has become industrialist China. Author Kynge does an outstanding job in presenting internal and external global issues China faces today, and how its needs combined with its resources, or lack of them, will direct China in the future. Kynge reviews how China's problems with its environmental resources, a severe pollution that is beginning to cripple its core, government corruption that actually has become part of the norm, a legal system that makes sacrifice to human rights and rights of freedom for its citizens, a Gestapo-like police force, and a media that bows to censorship all together are crutches that will force China to rely on global trade, and so, global cooperation. The author is also diligent in showing the mass resources and capability of China's manufacturing facilities, and why there is no end in sight to there economic boom. Clearly there is a prosperous balance that has developed between China and the United States, and China and Western Europe. Kynge presents the dynamic issues of this complex web in a way that is most educational, backed with unquestionable foundational data, reader friendly, and compelling . . .

Minxin Pei, China's Trapped Transition: The Limits of Developmental Autocracy (Harvard University press, 2006) Amazon
Product Description: The rise of China as a great power is one of the most important developments in the twenty-first century. But despite dramatic economic progress, China’s prospects remain uncertain. In a book sure to provoke debate, Minxin Pei examines the sustainability of the Chinese Communist Party’s reform strategy—pursuing pro-market economic policies under one-party rule.
Pei casts doubt on three central explanations for why China’s strategy works: sustained economic development will lead to political liberalization and democratization; gradualist economic transition is a strategy superior to the “shock therapy” prescribed for the former Soviet Union; and a neo-authoritarian developmental state is essential to economic take-off. Pei argues that because the Communist Party must retain significant economic control to ensure its political survival, gradualism will ultimately fail.
The lack of democratic reforms in China has led to pervasive corruption and a breakdown in political accountability. What has emerged is a decentralized predatory state in which local party bosses have effectively privatized the state’s authority. Collusive corruption is widespread and governance is deteriorating. Instead of evolving toward a full market economy, China is trapped in partial economic and political reforms.
Combining powerful insights with empirical research, China’s Trapped Transition offers a provocative assessment of China’s future as a great power.

Daniel H. Geng - A book for those who actually know the ABCs of China, May 2, 2006
For those who's never been to China or lived there, this book might be a little out of their scope. Afterall, the only things you hear in the news are how if Walmart were a country, it'd be China's 7th biggest trading partner, or how Intel is building their fabs in China (away from Shanghai towards inland to further reduce cost). For those people, go read on how China will take over the world economically by the middle of this century and believe what you want.
For those who Does have any clue about China's political system is keenly aware that the entire Chinese economy is still tied into the political system, and that is just a time bomb waiting to explode. If the CCP were to collapse, half of the country's wealth will be exported and rest will go down with the defunct banking system. This book digs into the depth of the current geo-political situation, and is so accurate that the People's Congress is taking note and implementing changes (albeit slowly) previously pointed out by the author. If you want to know the REAL story behind the Chinese economic system and where it'll truely head in the next several decades, this is THE book to read. Not some "economic model that projects blah, blah, blah and threaten's US's position in the world," where the author is totally cluelss of all fundamentals of the Chinese economy other than published economic numbers.

An anonimous reviewer: I am not a political scientist, economist or expert on China, and I found this book quite clear and understandable. It is a highly intelligent, in-depth and convincing analysis of China as a dysfunctional, 'predatory' state. It is highly unlikely it will evolve in positive directions of increasing democracy. While it may collapse, the future may instead be that of a corrupt, stagnating failed state which exports its problems to the rest of the world - failure to control drugs, arms sales to dangerous regimes, aids, illegal immigration, etc etc. An important antidote to all the self-serving business propaganda on China's economic miracle.

John Pomfret, Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of New China (Henry Holt, 2006)
From Publishers Weekly: Pomfret's first sojourn in China came as an American exchange student at Nanjing University in 1981, near the outset of China's limited reopening to the West and its halting, chaotic and momentous conversion from Maoist totalitarianism to police state capitalism and status as world economic giant. Over the next two decades, he returned twice as a professional journalist and was an eyewitness to the events at Tiananmen Square in 1989. Pomfret's enthusiasm and personal access make this an engaging examination of three tumultuous decades, rooted in the stories of classmates whose remarkable grit and harrowing experiences neatly epitomize the sexual and cultural transformations, and the economic ups and downs, of China since the 1960s. At the same time, Pomfret draws on intimate conversations and personal diaries to paint idiosyncratic portraits with a vivid, literary flair. Viewing China's version of capitalism as an anomoly, and focused overwhelmingly within its national borders, the book's lack of a greater critical context will be limiting for some. But Pomfret's palpable and pithy first-hand depiction of the New China offers a swift, elucidating introduction to its awesome energies and troubling contradictions. (Aug.)

From The Washington Post: Those of us reporting on China a few years ago believed the big story of the early 21st century would be its transformation from impoverished pariah to economic juggernaut and global superpower. Instead, 9/11 shifted the attention of U.S. media to the Muslim world, and China became, as it had been for most of the previous 500 years, an intricate sideshow. That's a shame, because the massive societal shifts in China -- which form the most fascinating, relevant and important development of the new millennium -- have been steadily pushed off the front pages and opening segments by a flood of stories on the war on terror.
Washington Post reporter John Pomfret's compulsively readable new book on today's China deserves far more attention than that. Chinese Lessons is a rich, first-hand account of modern Chinese history as it was lived and experienced by five of the author's 1981 classmates at Nanjing University. Pomfret was among the first generation of American college students to enroll in exchange programs with Chinese universities in the early 1980s; the New York native grew up to become The Post's Beijing bureau chief and one of the very best reporters covering China throughout the dynamic 1990s, with his writings emerging as the standard by which many of his peers judged their own work. In his hands, the journey of his classmates becomes not just an entertaining and precisely rendered account of a changing China in which consumers' aspirations ratcheted up from bicycles and wrist watches to Audis and flip-phones; it also becomes a splendid human narrative of how fragile souls weather barbaric cruelty, social shifts and the rewiring of a nation.
When Pomfret arrived in China shortly after Deng Xiaoping had launched China's free-market-oriented economic reforms, he met his college roommates -- seven perpetually hungry, reed-thin, cotton-jacketed survivors of various denouncements, rustications and "struggle sessions" inflicted on supposed traitors. They generously gave him the bunk next to the window, a prime location in a dank, first-floor dormitory room that was a maze of wet clothes hanging to dry amid a haze of garlic stench. The students whom Pomfret came to know were only just emerging from a long Maoist nightmare: "My classmates snooped on each other, read each other's diaries, feared and suspected one another -- an expression of the deep mistrust they perfected during the Cultural Revolution when they were pitted against their parents, siblings, and friends."
Every Chinese over the age of, say, 45, has a vivid recollection of life under Mao Zedong -- often of the national psychotic episode known as the Cultural Revolution, in which Mao unleashed his Red Guards as he reestablished control in the mid-1960s. Pomfret vividly recounts such stories from his classmates and their families. There is Old Wu (called "old" because he is a year older than Pomfret), the son of a prominent academic, who found out about the murder of his parents from two fellow Red Guards as they giddily recounted it. Or there's Zhou Lianchun, who, as a 15-year-old Red Guard, fanatically denounced his mother in public for three days as a "capitalist" and screamed at her to renounce her "bourgeois sensibility."
The journey of these college roommates through university and into middle age is an easy-to-follow road map through post-Mao China. Chinese Lessons explains so many of the contradictions that one encounters in the country today: A nation that prides itself on family bonds and ancestor worship can also exploit relatives and tear down monuments. Pomfret shows how the cutthroat immorality that pervades so many segments of Chinese society today is rooted in the excesses of the Cultural Revolution. ("Why," he wonders, "did so many stories in China always seem to end with the bad guys getting away, literally, with murder?") Yet once Deng lifted the economic strictures of communism, as immoral as they were, they were never replaced by another ethical code save the "man-eat-man" (the common Chinese translation of "dog-eat-dog") capitalism of modern China.
As a result, China has gone from being one of the most egalitarian societies in the world to among the least. It is a rapidly aging country stricken by widespread and devastating environmental degradation, and the government's first response to epidemics, poisoned water supplies and natural disasters is usually to try to cover up the debacle. Pomfret's sketches of self-serving Chinese officials, bureaucrats and businesspeople will be depressingly familiar to anyone who has worked in China. (Though this was the first time I had read of some Chinese executives' penchant for spending weekends smoking methamphetamine, popping Viagra and bedding prostitutes.) And Pomfret's portraits of contemporary Chinese who enter adulthood with a naive optimism that is soon replaced by heartbreaking cynicism will be maddening to readers who are rooting for China to become a responsible world power. Yet to his great credit, Pomfret's affection for the people he is writing about almost always shows through, which keeps Chinese Lessons from feeling like a polemic; the book's accumulation of acutely observed detail is compelling.
Pomfret ends by positing a notion that will be increasingly discussed in years to come as China's great opportunity for economic growth begins to look more and more like a wasted chance to improve the lives of so many of its people: "The social contract hashed out by Deng -- you can get rich if you keep your mouth shut -- is fraying because too few people have won their share of the bargain." If Pomfret is correct (and I think he is), China will still be the great story of the 21st century -- not because of what has gone right but because of what has gone wrong.
Reviewed by Karl Taro Greenfeld (Copyright 2006, The Washington Post)

Extraordinary , August 6, 2006
By Seth Faison (Princeton, NJ) - An outstanding book. There really is no better way to tell the story of China's incredible transformation over the past 25 years than through the lives of a few well-chosen characters. Pomfret delivers, beautifully. In a winning narrative, he skillfully braids the intricate tales of several classmates from Nanjing University, where Pomfret went in 1981, bunking with seven roommates in a tiny dorm room. Together, taking a variety of tracks over the next 20 years, those classmates end up capturing the striking horrors and unpredictable aspirations of the Chinese nation. By keeping in touch with them, as he matures into a first-rate journalist, Pomfret is able to gain a level of intimacy and knowledge about their lives that is unmatched in any narrative about Modern China. His writing is sharp and convivial. His story-telling ability matches the stories themselves, which are unbelievable.
Book-Idiot Zhou confides to Pomfret that he was a tormentor, not a victim, during the Cultural Revoluiton. Later, he alternates teaching Marxist history with deal-making in the urine industry. Song, a born Romeo, falls for an Italian woman and has sneak-away trysts. My own favorite was Little Guan, persecuted at age 11 for wiping herself with a piece of paper that said 'Long live Chairman Mao. She is a cheerful fighter, and bucks the odds over and over to succeed.
Pomfret is masterful. Armed with a fluent Chinese and a deft pen, he becomes an outstanding journalist, leading the coverage of Tiananmen, being formally expelled from China, and coming back again as Beijing Bureau chief for the Washington Post to establish himself as the dean of foreign correspondents. His newspaper stories were the gold standard of China coverage for several years. In this book, more than anything, it is his extraordinary ability to learn, ruminate and convey the stories of his Chinese classmates that stands out. Highly recommended.

Jonathan Spence, The Chan's Great Continent: China in Western Minds (NY: W.W. Norton, 1999)
Jonathan Spence, The Search for Modern China (NY: W.W. Norton, 1999)
From Publishers Weekly: Spence argues that China's modernization strategies can't work unless the people are allowed to participate in political decision-making. A splendid achievement, this sweeping 1088-page epic chronicle compresses four centuries of political and social change into a sharply observant narrative. Spence offers contemporary perspectives on the British 19th-century drive to get the Chinese masses addicted to opium, Chiang Kai-Shek's secret police apparatus and proto-fascist supporters, Japan's ruthless occupation during WW II, the Mao bloodbath known as the "Cultural Revolution" and the legacy of China's bureaucratic, authoritarian Ming and Qing dynasties.
From School Library Journal: The difficulty of finding a complete, one-volume history of China is no longer a problem with publication of this work, which covers Chinese history from the 16th-century Ming Dynasty to the 1989 "China Spring" demonstrations. The 200+ photographs and illustrations, many in color and previously unpublished, include historical notes that add understanding to the art and the stories illustrated. The text is written in an informative manner that will appeal to students; their lack of knowledge of Chinese history is forstalled by the comprehensive glossary that explains phrases, people, and events. High-school teachers will bless you for buying this well-researched volume. -Dolores Steinhauer, Jefferson Sci-Tech, Alexandria, VA.

Ross Terril, The New Chinese Empire: And What It Means for the United States (NY: Basic Books, 2004)
From Publishers Weekly: Experienced China-watcher Terrill (Mao: A Biography) has viewed with a skeptical eye China's emergence as a major player in the international community. In this rather one-sided view of China's future, he implores the West not to pursue a policy of na‹ve engagement with the People's Republic, citing what he considers to be the dangerous state-centered legacy of the nation's dynastic past. Of principal concern to Terrill is China's continued territorial control over the culturally alien border regions of Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. This imperial expansionism is driven in part by what Terrill identifies as an arrogant sense of entitlement in the minds of China's leaders, coupled with a military capability that he overstates to buttress his provocative conclusion: that China is a "misfit" in the international system and is what Terrill calls a "semiterrorist outfit." The author also argues that if malcontented minorities on China's periphery don't tear apart the Communist regime, then a faltering Chinese economy will. Communist repression limits what Terrill crudely describes as the "Chinese genius for business" and the people's "industriousness," and, he expects, will bring about a powerful backlash against the state. One symptom of the coming collapse identified by Terrill relates to a yawning gap in income among workers and the fact that 1% of Chinese owns 40% of the country's wealth. This is alarming, but hardly foreshadows the country's collapse when one considers the size of the economic gap in the U.S. Maps.

From Booklist: Is the People's Republic of China willing to become a modern nation, asks Terrill, or does it insist on remaining an empire? What will the China of the future look like and how might political change occur? Emphasizing present-day, post-Mao China's essential continuities with its 2,500-year-old imperial roots, the author describes the emerging tension between old and new as rooted in long and familiar historical tensions: the needs of the individual versus those of the state, Confucianism versus legalism, and an "us-versus-them" approach to foreign policy. The Chinese state has seen many political changes--indeed, revolutions--but these states have often wielded power similarly, especially regarding the rights of the individual, the treatment of territories like Taiwan and Hong Kong, and an insistence on centralized power. These deeply held imperial values, argues Terrill, are what keeps China from becoming a modern nation at the head of the global community, and what must bend if the current state is to keep from cracking. Insightful predictions and critical yet astute observations. Brendan Driscoll.

Biased, but useful and convincing, July 17, 2003
By H. Huggins (New York, NY) - This review is from: The New Chinese Empire: Bejing's Political Dilemma And What It Means For The United States (Hardcover)
By the middle of the first chapter of this book, you know exactly where Ross Terrill stands. He is not a fan of the CCP. That being said, I found his view refreshing. There are many China apologists writing out there, and this book tries to balance the field.
Some complaints:
- Terrill is vague in parts. Take this sentence for example: "Historically, the centralization-devolution swings were sometimes a prelude to dynastic decline and fragmentation, but not always"(pg. 180). There are many wishy-washy sentences like that in "New Chinese Empire." Also, I am in the dark as to what 'synergy' really means in the context of international relations. A more detailed explanation would have been welcomed.
- China scholars would disagree with Terrill that because China does not hold national, free elections, Chinese citizens have no say in their government (see Shi Tianjian's "Political Participation in Beijing"). Elections are not the only, and not even the most effective, mode of participation. Chinese participate in a variety of ways...refusal to attend meetings, local elections, protests against local cadres, letter writing (which Terrill dismisses offhand as 'petitioning the court'), etc.
- Some of what Terrill writes contradicts what I have learned (not to say I am right; conflicting sources automatically make me wary). For example: Terrill claims the protests following the accidental American bombing of the Chinese embassy in Serbia were coordinated by the government. I was under the impression that the government tried its best to get Chinese to stop protesting for the sake of Sino-American harmony.
- Terrill can be overly harsh on China. In his disussion of Sino-Japanese relations, he criticizes China for not letting World War II issues go. To be fair, Japan never has apologized for atrocoties committed in that war, and its nations textbooks do not address the question honestly. The fact that China also censors its textbooks / history does not lessen Japan's blame . Also, there were a few times I felt Terrill was a micrometer away from calling China "Chicom," and he did call it a 'semi-terrorist outfit.' This seems a bit much.
- Terrill's argument seems to rely too much on emotion. He taps into American frustrations at China's grandstanding, and finds a historical basis for it.
- Some of the accusations Terrill waves at China could be said just as equally about America, or any country for that matter. He states China doesn't have allies, and therefore they are inconsistent and dishonest in foreign policy. No country has allies, they have interests, and these interests change over time. Terrill's accusation singles China out, but can be applied to every country in every time.
All those complaints aside, overall I liked this book. I particularaly liked his explanation of China's claims on territory that is simply not theirs (Tibet, Xinjiang, Manchuria, etc.). His view on Taiwan was especially appreciated. He notes that talk about the "Taiwan problem" masks that there is no problem. Taiwan is a healthy, prosperous democracy. The problem is that China claims to own it. Having lived in Taiwan, I can attest to the fact that the Mainland's propoganda claiming that the Taiwan issue is exacerbated by American policy is absolutely false. I have yet to meet a Taiwanese person who thinks "re"unification is anywhere close to a good idea. But I digress...
Okay, so in summary, this book was a good read, but read with a critical eye.

This book makes my head spin, April 30, 2003
By Bibliophile - The coincidence is remarkable: Niall Ferguson's book on the British Empire, Dominic Lieven's on the Russian Empire, and now Ross Terrill's on the Chinese Empire - all appear at the same time. All are histories with a message - the subject is more like political science than strictly history.
While Ferguson's final message on the British Empire is that America is in fact an empire and should be a larger one still in the future, Terrill argues similarly that China today is also an empire - but one that should cease to exist if possible.
This book is somewhat confusing, a jumble of anecdotes, historical analysis, and political theorizing. It is so full of complaints about the present Chinese government that I doubt this is unintentional: Ross Terrill is making a statement, being deliberately provocative (no doubt improving sales here in America), and leaving behind a personal manifesto for posterity, so to speak. This book is unlikely to make the bestsellers lists in China, to put it mildly.
If I'm not mistaken, Terrill believes China will democratize - and break up into a federation of semi-independent states. He offers a number of scenarios, but the point is the same: China cannot, must not, and will not remain what it is today. He means politically. Of economics he has little to say.
While I agree with him that China will change, Terrill is a bit vague on his specific timeframe.
My personal observation is as follows. China has undergone more changes politically and economically in the last two hundred years than it had ever had since 400-200 B.C., when China was in political, military, cultural, economic and social turmoil before finally achieving the prosperity and stability of the two Han Dynasties. Today China is still in transition, and one cannot expect China not to change. Terrill's point is valid, if somewhat overstated. Every country follows its own course, which is marked out by its history and shaped by international events. Certainly China will eventually liberalize and be part of the international community in every sense. Why be so impatient? China today is authoritarian and totalitarian. What Terrill doesn't ask is: Is China more authoritarian and totalitarian today than a quarter century ago, or is it less so? The answer is of course LESS SO. Moreover, all signs point to the same thing: China is still moving in the democratic direction, and however slow this process may be, it seems irreversible. Terrill chooses not to point this out. (If China were NOT moving in the right direction, I doubt very much the 2008 Olympics would have been awarded to Beijing. The reason why comparing the Beijing Games to the "Hitler Olympics" in 1936 doesn't make sense is that Germany in the 1930's was moving in the wrong direction, while China today is clearly changing in the right direction, politically as well economically.)
I have a slight problem with authors who make their points with highly selective facts. It makes me suspicious of their integrity (or worse, their competence). I have no doubt Terrill is a China-lover. After all his biography of Mao is one of my favorite books. But this book is a little different. One detail illustrates my point. On p. 281: "In fact, after two decades of MFN status for China, US trade with the PRC was very far from being 'ten times' its trade with Taiwan. In 1999, US exports to the PRC were LESS than its exports to Taiwan."
First of all, considering this book just came out of the printers, I find it odd that he has chosen 1999 to make his point. US exports to China in Feb 2003 was $4 billion, compared to $2.5 billion to Taiwan - not LESS, but 1.6 times. US total trade with China for the month of Feb, 2003 was $11.69 billion, compared with the puny $3.38 billion with Taiwan. For the whole year of 2002, US total trade in both exports and imports with China amounted to $147.3 billion, compared with the much smaller $50.6 billion with Taiwan. (All figures from the US Dept of Commerce.) Now, of course none of these figures invalidate Terrill's point that US trade with China is still less than ten times that with Taiwan, but what he suggests is misleading (and in his suggestion that US exports to China is less than to Taiwan, wrong). The truth is, China is doing much more trade, both ways, with America than Taiwan is. It may not be ten times as much - YET - but considering the fact that America has been seriously trading with China for only a decade, while it has been doing so with Taiwan since 1949, the ten times conjecture is very possible in the future. China is already America's 4th largest trade partner - coming fast on the heels of Japan - while Taiwan is only 9th. Terrill neglects to mention that the trade growth between China and the US is extremely fast, while America's trade with Taiwan is stalled. He also fails to note that two-way trade betwen China and Taiwan is also growing healthily (despite SARS). Terrill is suggesting that when Deng Xiaoping made this forecast to Carter, he was lying. But he wasn't, because he never said when this target would be achieved. In time, it will be.
Terrill makes this observation to illustrate the difference between what the Chinese govenment says and the reality. This book has countless such examples. No doubt the point itself is well-made and correct. (Show me a government - any government - that tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but! Where are the WMD and al-Qaeda links in Iraq?) But since the reality he himself presents is often so misleading and sometimes wrong, he makes a fool of himself. He must first find out the truth himself before accusing others of not telling the truth.
While I'm on this subject of trade, Terrill doesn't ask himself why trade with the West will not be the key to political changes in China. It WILL be. Indeed he has little to say about economics in general, even though foreign trade leads to economic prosperity, which in turn will drive social and political liberalization, not to mention further economic reform. Trade is China's political and economic engine. Instead he focuses on the one thing he loves to talk about: political ideology. That puts the cart before the horse. Also, he doesn't discuss why China even with an authoritarian system can still be a responsible and constructive partner with the US over foreign problems, such as North Korea, as it is indeed proving to be so. India is a democracy - how is India helping America? France too is a democracy for that matter.
I find this book full of rage. No doubt it stems from his personal love of China and his hatred of the regime, and I empathize. Or maybe it's just a deliberate posture (what they call "grand standing")? But it is foolish to be impatient and fail to take the long view. (This is doubly odd since Terrill's familiarity with China's history is evident in this book.) It is also unwise to neglect the economic factors in the equation, and dishonest to be highly selective in presenting facts and figures to prove his points.

International Relations, China-Style, May 12, 2003
By Jeffery Steele (Taipei, Taiwan) - Ross Terrill sees continuity between the past and the present in China's domestic politics and international relations. The imperial system, he believes, is still the fundamental structure in which China's leaders make decisions, even in the twenty-first century, and even after more than fifty years of Communist rule.
That leaders like Mao and Deng (and even Jiang) were emperors in all but name is something of a cliché, but Terrill gives a fresh perspective to this commonly-held notion. He is well-read in China's history, and shows it here to good effect without weighing himself down with excessive scholarship. His style is light and well-suited to his approach: prove a point to the general reader's satisfaction and then move on.
By far the most interesting sections of Terrill's book are those having to do with China's world view. China has traditionally looked upon not just the rest of East Asia, but even the rest of the world as an extension of China itself. This was not so much a ruling concept as it was a pervasive ruling assumption, and it formed the basis for imperial China. When China was strong, this assumption allowed it to swallow up other areas from Tibet to Vietnam without elaborate conceptual justifications; when China was weak, the assumption was still in force through tributary relations or complex diplomatic relations that allowed Beijing to appear to have the upper hand even when it did not. Circumstances may change, but the assumption is never questioned.
Terrill draws numerous parallels between imperial China and today's new China. Beijing still seeks to punch above its weight by formalizing relationships with other countries in ways China prefers even when it cannot immediately achieve its aims (this explains why China puts such stress on its "One-China" policy with the United States). What is remarkable, he argues, is not so much that China would use this strategy as how successful it is in doing so. Other nations - whether out of excessive respect for China's culture or fear of losing access to China's market - bow down and accede to many of China's demands.
In the area of international relations, this book should be viewed as the counterpoint to "The Great Wall and the Empty Fortress: China's Search for Security." Whereas the authors of that book, Andrew Nathan and Robert Ross, view China as fundamentally conservative in its international outlook, Terrill sees it as potentially destabilizing.

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Comments are useful, provided that they refer exactly to the subject of the post, and present some relevant argument.
Comentários são bem-vindos, desde que relativos ao tema do post e apresentando argumentos substantivos.