March 07, 2007

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The China fantasy

James Mann used to be the LA Times Beijing correspondent and has written a book, The China Fantasy. Here's a review of the book via Bloomberg:

This tale crops up in a new book by James Mann, a former Beijing correspondent of the Los Angeles Times who uses it to illustrate the way skewed information warps the views foreigners have of China. The difference, these days, is that the Chinese aren't the only ones doing the skewing, he writes.

In ``The China Fantasy: How Our Leaders Explain Away Chinese Repression,'' Mann points an accusing finger at the most powerful people in U.S., Europe and Asia -- politicians, corporate executives, scholars and diplomats.

These decision makers and opinion formers offer what he terms the Soothing Scenario whenever critics attack China's one- party regime and grim human-rights record: No one should worry, they argue, because increasing trade and investment will do more than speed China's economic transformation; it will also bring dramatic political change.

That, Mann contends, isn't true. ``Day after day, American officials carry out policies based upon premises about China's future that are at best questionable and at worst downright false,'' he says in these crisply written and pugnacious essays...

Still, this book could do with more balance. For instance, Mann omits to mention how authoritarian China has pulled off the unprecedented trick of lifting 300-plus million people out of poverty since 1980, according to United Nations figures. Nor does he offer much advice to China investors. That may not be the purpose of this book, yet it's something readers of Beijing Jeep will want.

Sounds like one to add to the wish list.

posted by Simon on 03.07.07 at 11:26 AM in the China category.


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