China constitutes a fifth of the world's population. Over the last twenty years its economy has doubled to make it the fifth largest economy in the world; if the pace is repeated over the next twenty it is set to become second only to the US. The speed of its development is stunning, a combination of cheap labour and commitment to science and technology that has never been matched by a developing country. The Pearl River Delta, Shanghai and Beijing have become city-regions whose growth and embrace of modernity strike the visitor with awesome force. This is a continent on the move, recovering the world position and wealth it once had. The re-emergence of China as a superpower constitutes the biggest challenge the world has had for more than a century. Never before in modern times has the financial, trade, economic and diplomatic world pecking order been so profoundly reconstituted with the challenger country itself in the grips of incredible ideological and political change. This is a transition both internally in China and externally in the world beyond beset by hazard and risk. The world's peace and prosperity depends upon it being executed successfully.
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(197mm x 133mm x 30mm)
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
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US Kirkus Review »
A middling effort at reconciling the interests of the Middle Kingdom and Middle America.China and the U.S. regard each other with distrust and suspicion. Granted, China is a communist police state and the U.S. is a capitalistic behemoth; yet, writes British journalist Hutton (A Declaration of Interdependence, 2003, etc.), the countries benefit each other, with China responsible for having bettered the American standard of living through cheaper prices and the U.S. responsible for having provided China with its larger export window onto the outside world. Hutton notably argues that fewer American (and European) jobs have been lost to China than has been reported; of more importance, he stresses, is "the massive redistribution of income from the bottom 99 percent to the top 1 percent," which impoverishes Western workers. The point Hutton makes is a useful one, but he also engages in wishful thinking by urging China to embrace Enlightenment values that have long "endowed western societies with the idea of the public realm" and of other democratic virtues, presumably through a European "model of capitalism that is more attractive than the American." A multiparty system of government may be a desideratum for a better world, but it seems unlikely, as Hutton acknowledges, that the ever more conservative Central Committee will allow such a development willingly. Although the author hopes for cooperation and free trade, it seems more likely that the West and China will nurse political and economic rivalries for some time to come, given that Enlightenment values seem to be ever scarcer in many Western quarters, too.Hutton's exhortations seem best addressed to isolationists in both countries-an audience unlikely to be moved by them. For a more nuanced view, see James Kynge's China Shakes the World (2006). (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Will Hutton
Will Hutton is principal of Hertford College, Oxford and columnist for the OBSERVER, where he was editor, then editor-in-chief for four years. He began his career in journalism as economics correspondent for the BBC's NEWSNIGHT and for the GUARDIAN.