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We know everything and nothing about China. We know that China is changing so fast that the maps in Shanghai need to be redrawn every two weeks. We know that China has brought 300 million people from agricultural backwardness into modernity in just thirty years, and that its impact on the global economy is growing at unprecedented speed. We have an image of China as a dict We know everything and nothing about China. We know that China is changing so fast that the maps in Shanghai need to be redrawn every two weeks. We know that China has brought 300 million people from agricultural backwardness into modernity in just thirty years, and that its impact on the global economy is growing at unprecedented speed. We have an image of China as a dictatorship; a nationalist empire that threatens its neighbors and global peace. But how many people know about the debates raging within China? What do we really know about the kind of society China wants to become? What ideas are motivating its citizens? We can name America's neo-cons and the religious right, but cannot name Chinese writers, thinkers, or journalists--what is the future they dream of for their country, or for the world? Because China's rise-- like the fall of Rome or the British Raj--will echo down generations to come, these are the questions we increasingly need to ask. Mark Leonard asks us to forget everything we thought we knew about China and start again. He introduces us to the thinkers who are shaping China's wide open future and opens up a hidden world of intellectual debate that is driving a new Chinese revolution and changing the face of the world.


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We know everything and nothing about China. We know that China is changing so fast that the maps in Shanghai need to be redrawn every two weeks. We know that China has brought 300 million people from agricultural backwardness into modernity in just thirty years, and that its impact on the global economy is growing at unprecedented speed. We have an image of China as a dict We know everything and nothing about China. We know that China is changing so fast that the maps in Shanghai need to be redrawn every two weeks. We know that China has brought 300 million people from agricultural backwardness into modernity in just thirty years, and that its impact on the global economy is growing at unprecedented speed. We have an image of China as a dictatorship; a nationalist empire that threatens its neighbors and global peace. But how many people know about the debates raging within China? What do we really know about the kind of society China wants to become? What ideas are motivating its citizens? We can name America's neo-cons and the religious right, but cannot name Chinese writers, thinkers, or journalists--what is the future they dream of for their country, or for the world? Because China's rise-- like the fall of Rome or the British Raj--will echo down generations to come, these are the questions we increasingly need to ask. Mark Leonard asks us to forget everything we thought we knew about China and start again. He introduces us to the thinkers who are shaping China's wide open future and opens up a hidden world of intellectual debate that is driving a new Chinese revolution and changing the face of the world.

30 review for What Does China Think?

  1. 5 out of 5

    AC

    This is a fairly decent, very brief -- but ultimately far too superficial -- treatment of the political debates current (or current 3 years ago) in contemporary China. I suspect that the GFC already has, and that the immanent coming of Xi-Li will additionally... change the equations somewhat. The introduction and conclusion are worthless. Chapter one places Hu and Wen clearly and helpfully in the context of the contemporary debate (2008) between the "New Right" (basically, chinese neoliberals fro This is a fairly decent, very brief -- but ultimately far too superficial -- treatment of the political debates current (or current 3 years ago) in contemporary China. I suspect that the GFC already has, and that the immanent coming of Xi-Li will additionally... change the equations somewhat. The introduction and conclusion are worthless. Chapter one places Hu and Wen clearly and helpfully in the context of the contemporary debate (2008) between the "New Right" (basically, chinese neoliberals from Shanghai and the other coastal cities -- who trace their political descent from Deng and especially from Ziang Jemin); and the "New Left" who are more moderate reformers, more concerned with problems of inequality and the environment (as Leonard tells it), and who count both Hu and Wen and the others who descend from the CCYL (Chinese Communist Youth League) and the inland provinces. Xi comes from this group, though Li is actually thought to have been Hu's special protegé. Xi, btw, is the one who has apparently come out on top, not Li. Chapter 2 is the best. It discusses the debates about democracy in China -- and shows how China has essentially opted for the Singapore model (Lee Kuan Yew) -- which is rule by experts or by expert committee, what in the West (and in the current EZ we see this mode taking shape as we speak -- with Monti in Italy and Papademos in Athens) is called "technocratic government" (Leonard makes this point). Leonard also refers to this mode of governance as 'consensual' or 'deliberative democracy' or 'deliberative or consensual dictatorship' interchangeably. It establishes governance according to a strict rule of law (enforced by an independent judiciary), responsive to the needs of the public (that is, strong citizen participation) achieved either through petition or public hearings or by what is called deliberative polling (a concept pioneered by James Fishkin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_S.... + http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delibera...) -- rather than through free and truly open elections. It is the wave of the future and, I believe, the way in which "managed" or "guided" democracy will take shape in the West in the coming decades. (Of course, in the West they will try to maintain the fiction of free elections -- but they will be, and already are, essentially a charade). This, according to Leonard, is a workable model, and is something far different from the autocracies of 20th cen. Europe. Deliberative polling is a fascinating idea. Rather than simply polling the public, which (in China, as in the U.S.) is massively ignorant, about their "opinions", that is, the opinions of the uninformed -- they take 250 or 300 people, chosen at random or on some representative basis -- and then spend the day (or longer) actually educating them about the issues (presented by experts) BEFORE polling them.... Finally, to repeat - and I want to stress this point - Leonard shows -- though the inference is mine -- that there are, indeed, very close resemblances between Deng's "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" (which, of course, was originally a form of Bukharinist 'Right Deviationism', think NEP, but which evolved into an essentially state-driven neoliberalism (think Jiang) and, as I have already said, the "technocracy" taking shape today in Europe. The third chapter deals with foreign policy, China's conception of 'soft power' - and briefly with the emerging nationalists in the PLA - what Leonard calls the "neocomms" (who are the mirror of the US "Neocons" - but the treatment is a bit superficial. It is important, however, since many on the Right in the U.S. - try to increase the visibility of the "neocomms" in order to justify their own paranoid and militant obsessions with the "rise of China". The "neocomms" (whose house organ is Global Times) are a threat, but they are not in control in China, and media outlets like Global Times are probably being used by the regime as a steam valve. This book is definitely worth a quick read and is, in some ways, better than the 3-stars I've given it, but is not quite worth 4 stars. So let's call it 3 & a-half or 3/4's. Perhaps I should say that if you know nothing about these matters, it is a 4-star book; but if you read a lot about these issues, it is a 3-star book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    I'm used to superficial business books about China, and to be honest I thought that's what this was. But no, it proved to be more substantial and interesting than that. This is a book about China's internal politics: how different groups of Chinese see China's rise and how it has been managed. Just as you can't make sense of America until you understand Democrats and Republicans, this book gives you the context to make sense of Chinese domestic and foreign policy. Rarely did I find it boring, whi I'm used to superficial business books about China, and to be honest I thought that's what this was. But no, it proved to be more substantial and interesting than that. This is a book about China's internal politics: how different groups of Chinese see China's rise and how it has been managed. Just as you can't make sense of America until you understand Democrats and Republicans, this book gives you the context to make sense of Chinese domestic and foreign policy. Rarely did I find it boring, which isn't what I would have expected from a book about politics. For example, I'd never been exposed to the question of whether economic reform should happen before political reform. Understanding the differences and implications of each made a lot of things fall into place: not just why China has these special economic zones but also why Iraq is so fucked. I was worried it was a sinophile's paean to communist China but he does criticize as well as describe. He is sympathetic, but not blind, and that's how I came away from this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    "From the late Qing era to the early years of the Republic, the era of warlords, Jiang Jieshi, Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin — Chinese politics has made world-shaking changes, but the label put on it [in the West] made no change at all." And so Mark Leonard sets out, in about 150 very readable pages, to change that, by giving a brief overview of the variety of recent strands of political theory and practice, painting modern China not so much as one big behemoth, but as a wide range of "From the late Qing era to the early years of the Republic, the era of warlords, Jiang Jieshi, Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin — Chinese politics has made world-shaking changes, but the label put on it [in the West] made no change at all." And so Mark Leonard sets out, in about 150 very readable pages, to change that, by giving a brief overview of the variety of recent strands of political theory and practice, painting modern China not so much as one big behemoth, but as a wide range of competing ideologies, approaches, and, indeed, experiments. The five stars aren't because it's a perfect book, but simply to reflect just how many ‘ah!’s, ‘ooh!’s, and ‘eh?’s were crammed into it. For those of us involved in the world of public participation and open power, there are a lot of fascinating discussions tantalisingly alluded to here (I was particularly struck by one analogy of how Western democracy is like a restaurant where you can choose the chef, but then you have to eat whatever he cooks; vs China where you get no say in who the chef is, but you get to choose your [policy] dishes). Now I want the version that's twice as long, and updated for what's happened over the last five or six years.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Santo

    excellent book... a great insight into some of the prevailing debates over china's position and role in international relations from the chinese' perspectives (or at least, a western interpretation of chinese perspective)... enjoyed the book wholly, and has made certain switches in brain turned on... a solid reference for analyses on chinese foreign policy, which can provide a look into china's world view, thus allowing us to find a way to deal with such a view...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ganesh

    The success story of China and political changes taken in china in recent days. The new moderation in Communism. Simply it says: even within hard core communism, democracy and capitalism can have honourable space. And China has proved it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    severyn

    Before, I knew nothing about China. Now, I know a little less than nothing, but I'm slightly fascinated. A pretty interesting essay on current Chinese economic and political thinking.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sampath

    Is this how a political scientist writes a memo for policy makers? This one felt like reading a formal report but has tons of information in it. Worth reading.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rui Igreja

    Most available books about China are written and have opinions by foreigners. In this book, Chinese academics say what they think about the present and future (mainly politics and economy) of China.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Guy

    Now this is an interesting book! It's always a good sign when I get to the end and immediately start anew, this time with a pen in hand to mark and comment on critical ideas and passages. Leonard has spent a lot of time over the past few years talking to Chinese intellectuals and listening to what they say about China and the world -- past, present, and, above all, future. He asks them some questions, gives some critical analysis (tempered perhaps by his desire not to burn bridges, but gently ha Now this is an interesting book! It's always a good sign when I get to the end and immediately start anew, this time with a pen in hand to mark and comment on critical ideas and passages. Leonard has spent a lot of time over the past few years talking to Chinese intellectuals and listening to what they say about China and the world -- past, present, and, above all, future. He asks them some questions, gives some critical analysis (tempered perhaps by his desire not to burn bridges, but gently hard-hitting nevertheless), but for the most part he just lets them talk about what they think is important and why. And the result is (for this reader) a fascinating set of insights into the intellectual debates that have formed and continue to form Chinese policies both internal and external. One thing to bear in mind as you read the book is that there are no dissidents here: the intellectuals quoted are all inside the system -- those who have chosen to work within the constraints imposed by the (Chinese Communist) Party, of which the most important by far is "Thou shalt not question the right of the Party to rule China". But that is entirely appropriate for a book whose title is "What does China think?", and not "What do the Chinese think?". For better or for worse, the Party is going to continue to rule China for as long as it can... and that, as the book makes clear, may be long indeed. I know a little about China, having spent three weeks there this past September and having read various books and many articles over the years, so a fair amount of the content was confirmatory, but there were nevertheless a surprising number of "Aha!" moments and genuinely transformational insights. For example, everyone knows that China has allowed large parts of its economy to run themselves according to capitalist principles, but the extent to which the Party itself has drunk the Koolaid of totally uncontrolled laissez-faire capitalism was a surprise to me. I had always assumed that the admission of capitalism was grudging... but the true state of affairs is that the "reformers" in China today are those who are trying to reestablish social liberal principles (think Eurosocialism) rather than those who are arguing for less government intervention in the economy. Along the same lines, consider the Tiananmen Square demonstrations and subsequent crackdown. I had always thought that this was about democracy, but it seems as if that was a fairly minor element. The larger issue was popular discontent with the negative effects of market fundamentalism -- workers demonstrating for social security and wage/price stability and against corruption, speculation, and the downsides of bare-knuckles capitalism. The crackdown was therefore actually the crushing of a nascent socialist movement by a Party that wanted to continue headlong economic growth through uncontrolled free markets... and had surprisingly little to do with repressing the calls of democracy activists for an end to the Party's monopoly on power. At least in the eyes of the intellectuals interviewed for this book (always a necessary caveat). Fascinatingly, none of the intellectuals interviewed are arguing for a return to communist economic principles -- the Left side of the debate seems to extend about as far as Singapore (while the Right side is very close to Ron Paul's Libertarianism in the US). Some other interesting insights that I'll mention but won't go into detail about are: o the continuing inferiority complex vis à vis the West that despite all claims of Great Power status remains one of the driving forces in how China views the world. o the degree to which China's imperial history still determines how they think about things ("imperial" here in the Chinese sense of an all-powerful emperor -- today the Party -- at the center of a great state surrounded by barbarians who must be kept out, rather than the western "imperial" sense of a colonial empire). o the way in which the Party seems to be able to take any and all external ideas and reinterpret them in such a way as to support it's continuing monopoly of power, even if those ideas would on the surface suggest the opposite, with the result that you have to read and listen very carefully when Chinese intellectuals use terms you are familiar with -- they probably mean something very different by them than what you would expect. I could go on like this for a while, but your time would be better spent ordering and reading this book. The only major flaw that I see is, interestingly, quite similar to the major flaw in Leonard's previous book, "Why Europe will run the 21st Century": when he steps outside his area of focus to consider wider implications (in this case, what China means for the rest of the world), the quality of his insights drops dramatically. One of his theses is that China may offer a revolutionary new way that other developing countries may choose to follow that is in competition with American free-market consumer democracy with human-rights cream on top, European post-nation-state shared-values-based regional integration, and Islamist theocracy. Without doubt the Chinese model will be attractive, but not because it is revolutionary, and not for the primary reasons he cites. Frankly the Chinese model is just the old nation-state approach (states should be free to do what they like within their borders) which the Party likes because it invalidates criticism of continued Party autocracy. And that's exactly why many developing states will like it: you can have economic growth and keep your autocracy. In other words, not because the Chinese way shows that you don't have to give up sovereignty (to NGOs like the IMF) or replace your own culture with American consumerism, which is what Leonard proposes. Those are attractive things, of course, and will be oft cited, but they aren't the fundamental reason why so many autocrats will follow China's lead. But those are nits. This is an excellent book, as with his first book clear and concise -- a pleasure to read and unreservedly recommended!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Zara

    Published in 2007 this is probably outdated but it has been sitting on my shelf for a number of years and I don't think I ever got past the introduction. I made it a point to finish reading this while I was visiting my parents and as a pretty short book (about 135 pages of content) this was feasible although I found I could only digest about 25-30 pages a day as this wasn't an easy read. It basically gives an introduction to differing views on democracy/governance and economic ideals within the b Published in 2007 this is probably outdated but it has been sitting on my shelf for a number of years and I don't think I ever got past the introduction. I made it a point to finish reading this while I was visiting my parents and as a pretty short book (about 135 pages of content) this was feasible although I found I could only digest about 25-30 pages a day as this wasn't an easy read. It basically gives an introduction to differing views on democracy/governance and economic ideals within the behemoth that is the Chinese Communist party, some of which see the light of day through various pilot testing sites. Yes, there are exercises (at the lower levels of governance) in democracy in China! There's also decision making through something like public consultation juries which is quite interesting too. The book also touches on China's relationship with the rest of the world, it's bid for hegemony through non judgemental aid and introduces the early version of what is now known as the Belt-Road initiative.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Adrian

    While the literary landscape is awash with political analysis on China, this short and highly readable volume addresses the fundamental aspects of China's political thought, in an approach that is neither judgmental, nor excessively optimistic toward China's progress. Chinese approach toward democracy is essentially a cautionary one, with the political culture viewing it as a potential source of instability. This takes the form of possible unrest in non-Han areas, such as Xinjiang, Tibet, or the While the literary landscape is awash with political analysis on China, this short and highly readable volume addresses the fundamental aspects of China's political thought, in an approach that is neither judgmental, nor excessively optimistic toward China's progress. Chinese approach toward democracy is essentially a cautionary one, with the political culture viewing it as a potential source of instability. This takes the form of possible unrest in non-Han areas, such as Xinjiang, Tibet, or the Korean regions of the North East, but also as an inhibitor toward economic growth. The Chinese approach is to substitute the varying competing approaches found in multiparty politics for a one party system wherein various approaches compete under one party. This is compared to choosing a variety of chefs, and thereafter having no say in what they cook (the analogy of the Western model) or having one Chef, but choosing what he cooks you (the Chinese approach). The book makes note of how participatory elections have begun at village and local levels, and have taken a much broader and dynamic form within the Chongqing Municipality, but approach to the national level will have to come incrementally. A more thought provoking discussion is the approach to Chinese accumulation of military power. As strategists may be aware, China does not yet possess the key ingredients of superpower strength, namely a blue water navy, missile launching submarines, or aircraft carriers. However, it seeks to compete with American military might on asymmetric grounds, in the form of cyber-warfare, and other covert methods. The most alarming chapter concerns China's foreign policy, which could be best defined as a pure political realism approach. China's only concern is sovereignty, and it pledges non-interference in the external affairs of others. However, as this book argues, China has sought to aid existing power structures, teaching neighboring Central Asian governments in approaches to suppressing domestic unrest, and has sold surveillance equipment to foreign leaders such as Robert Mugabe. This is not out of any ideological impulses, rather economic interests. In all, this does not necessarily hold true to the principle of non-interference. Unlike revolutionary powers, such as the USSR, which challenged the status quo of other states, and to a lesser extent, the United States, China is arguably a staunchly non revolutionary power, a status quo vanguard. The book contains insights into the divergence of thought between the proponents of continued runaway economic growth (the new right) and those who are more concerned about widening inequality and lack of opportunity (the new left). In all, a very precise, informative, and to the point book recommendable to China novices, or established Sinologists.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Mark Leonard's premise is that the west has not yet recognized that China is developing her own unique approach to achieving super power status. China has tried to keep a low profile throughout the exponential economic growth of the past 30 years, for fear of western opposition and or intervention. Leonard has investigated China's rhetoric and policies in pursuit of multilateralism, soft power, and inter - dependence in relation to the southeast asian community and the world. The ever present ob Mark Leonard's premise is that the west has not yet recognized that China is developing her own unique approach to achieving super power status. China has tried to keep a low profile throughout the exponential economic growth of the past 30 years, for fear of western opposition and or intervention. Leonard has investigated China's rhetoric and policies in pursuit of multilateralism, soft power, and inter - dependence in relation to the southeast asian community and the world. The ever present obstacles to the non violent approach are Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet, Mongolia and the provinces around Korea. Leonard makes clear that China will never quit trying to re attach these lands to the motherland. Why do I give the book only 3 stars? Because Leonard self indulgently sites Fukayama's wrong headed argument about the end of history which he thinks is discredited by China's economic rise. Fukayama was wrong the moment his the ink dried - history continued after Alexander's conquest of Persia, the Hellenic alternative, it continued post Rome's destruction of Carthage and (known) world hegemony, and it continued with England's defeat of France in the Napoleanic Wars. The character of a nation determines it's superiority or inferiority with respect to other nation's, not it's degree of democracy. Mr. Leonard should know there was always an "formidable alternative" to American and European democracy: most of the rest of the world. He also fails to mention even once that America is China's number one buyer. Without America China would still be a borderline poor nation. End of story.

  13. 5 out of 5

    E

    Short, savvy tour of Chinese issues and arguments Mark Leonard’s desultory ramble through China’s intellectual landscape introduces that country’s most influential economic, political, diplomatic and military thinkers. In a market nearly saturated with books that do little more than echo each other’s amazed exclamations at China’s rapid economic development, getAbstract considers this a refreshing change. The book does not offer in-depth analysis of the ideas it presents, nor does it assess thei Short, savvy tour of Chinese issues and arguments Mark Leonard’s desultory ramble through China’s intellectual landscape introduces that country’s most influential economic, political, diplomatic and military thinkers. In a market nearly saturated with books that do little more than echo each other’s amazed exclamations at China’s rapid economic development, getAbstract considers this a refreshing change. The book does not offer in-depth analysis of the ideas it presents, nor does it assess their merits and demerits in any detail. It merely introduces a few very prominent Chinese intellectuals and offers a brief summary of their ideas. The book’s chief value is that it acknowledges the breadth of the diversity of thought within China, and spotlights the conflicts and tensions that are shaping its development.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dewey Norton

    To answer this question, the author met with leading scholars, policy makers, journalist, entrepreneurs and others to review economic, domectic and internation political issues. Within the context of one party, centrally planned economy, there is a surprising amount of intellectual ferment and, within strict limits, freedom to analyze ideas and propose alternative for the development of China, a lot more than I had thought. The book addresses some ambitious questions: what kind of country are th To answer this question, the author met with leading scholars, policy makers, journalist, entrepreneurs and others to review economic, domectic and internation political issues. Within the context of one party, centrally planned economy, there is a surprising amount of intellectual ferment and, within strict limits, freedom to analyze ideas and propose alternative for the development of China, a lot more than I had thought. The book addresses some ambitious questions: what kind of country are they dreaming of, how do they see their influence in the world, what are their plans to deal with America. These are critical issues as China has become our banker and our economies become more closely intertwined. The author's examination of the nature of the debate over these issues is quite a revelation to anyone who does not live in China.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Pieter

    China's geopolitical challenges and its economic evolution are quite common knowledge. It is interesting though to learn about the ideological debates and political trends within China. Since the country allows one political party, one could easily think that all minds are set the same. None of this true. Within the Communist Party of China one has New Left (focusing on increasing income inequality) and New Right (supporting free market). Regarding foreign policy, China has its own "neocons" and China's geopolitical challenges and its economic evolution are quite common knowledge. It is interesting though to learn about the ideological debates and political trends within China. Since the country allows one political party, one could easily think that all minds are set the same. None of this true. Within the Communist Party of China one has New Left (focusing on increasing income inequality) and New Right (supporting free market). Regarding foreign policy, China has its own "neocons" and "liberal internationalists". The author rightly states that China's increasing political, economic and military power eventually will lead to more curiosity of the international press and Western governments on the political discussions and consequently, the political direction the country is heading.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Littrell

    Ideas from China’s leading political theorists To get a perspective on what some Chinese political theorists are thinking, consider this. While Westerners “anguish” about how to manage China’s rise, Chinese think-tankers debate about “how to manage the West’s decline”! Wang Yiwei, from Fudan University, shares this worry, and asks, “How can we prevent the USA from declining too quickly?” (pp. 115-116) What this book attempts to provide is a Chinese perspective on the rise of China and its place in Ideas from China’s leading political theorists To get a perspective on what some Chinese political theorists are thinking, consider this. While Westerners “anguish” about how to manage China’s rise, Chinese think-tankers debate about “how to manage the West’s decline”! Wang Yiwei, from Fudan University, shares this worry, and asks, “How can we prevent the USA from declining too quickly?” (pp. 115-116) What this book attempts to provide is a Chinese perspective on the rise of China and its place in the world as it has grown from a largely agrarian society in the days of Mao to a superpower of the 21st century. To do this, Mark Leonard, who wrote “Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century,” traveled in China and interviewed many of China’s leading thinkers on politics and economics. A number of these scholars have advanced degrees from American universities. They have taken Western ideas back to China and incorporated them into traditional Chinese ways of thinking, consistent with the dictates of the ruling Communist Party. Leonard shows that within this unique political culture there have arisen various points of view, from the “New Right” of, e.g., Zhang Weiying, to the “New Left” of, e.g., Wang Hui, from ideas about the “peaceful rise” of China to notions more in keeping with the thinking of the so-called “neo-comms.” Part of the debate is about the use of military power, part of it is about how to influence other countries, and part of it is about how to manage its own people. Since Deng Xiaoping opted for a market economy within the political dictatorship, the growth of China has been extraordinary. But with this growth have come problems: pollution, growing economic inequalities, the yearning for political democracy, and the infusion (perhaps one might even say the “invasion”) of ideas foreign and inimical to the perceived interests of the communist state. To fight the disagreeable ideas from without, the government has trained “an e-police force of 100,000 people employed to scour the net, blocking sites and checking e-mails.” Leonard allows that this number may be exaggerated, but the point is clear: China wants to modernize, and to do so, must learn from the West, but at the same time it must not allow Western ideas to ferment dissention at home. Just how this delicate tightrope walk works in the public forums for China’s leading thinkers is part of what makes this book interesting. The “New Right” which led the change from Mao’s soviet style economy to what the Chinese call “Yellow River Capitalism,” which ushered in the gargantuan economic growth, has come under fire from various quarters, including the “New Left” which unlike the “old left” supports market reforms. However, as Wang Hui sees it, “China is caught between the two extremes of misguided socialism and crony capitalism….”He adds, “We must not give total priority to GDP growth to the exclusion of worker’s rights and the environment.” (p. 33) “Princeling” Pan Yue (as some of the privileged and talented members of the younger Chinese generation are called) “has talked of ‘China’s environmental suicide,’ and in an interview with the German magazine, Der Spiegel, predicted that ‘China’s economic miracle will end soon because the environment can no longer keep pace.’” (p. 42-43) Cui Zhiyuan, who is professor of Politics and Public Management at the Tsinghua University in Beijing, sees Chinese politics in Machiavellian terms: “For Machiavelli power was not divided between two levels: the state and the people. Florentine politics was split between three groups, the prince (the ‘one’), the nobles (the ‘few’) and the people (the ‘many’). In today’s China, the ‘one’ is the Communist Party, the ‘few’ are the super-rich, and the ‘many’ are the people.” (p. 47) There have been some experiments in “deliberative democracy” at the village level to allow some input into central party decisions. The Chinese have learned from the experience of the Soviet Union that ignorance of what people at the grass roots level think can lead to not just inefficiency but to disaster. However this token gesture toward political reform is not likely to replace the “deliberative dictatorship” that current holds sway. Nonetheless, “The government seems to realize that developing institutional ways of dealing with grievances can make the state more stable.” (p. 74) I think this last point is one that we in the West and especially in the United States need to understand. For most people in the world the first responsibility of the state is to provide security and stability. After that perhaps political freedom can evolve. China, learning from the failed Soviet experiment, has put economic reform first and political reform later. In international relationships, China is trying to develop “soft power” as a means to further its interests. The US, until the recent rise of George W. Bush and the neocons, exemplified the use of soft power to influence others through its culture and its economic strength. China wants to avoid the recent mistakes of the US such as invading other countries and is pursuing a policy of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other nations. Unfortunately it is also indiscriminately supporting dictators such as Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. Leonard asserts that “China will never be supportive of multi-party elections and human rights: why would it promote rights for foreigners that it denies to its own citizens?” (p. 126) Leonard provides a “Dramatis Personae” near the end of the book identifying some of China’s leading political and economic thinkers. There are endnotes and an index. All things considered, this is a good, albeit short, introduction to contemporary Chinese political thinking. --Dennis Littrell, author of “The World Is Not as We Think It Is”

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brooks

    This is a well-written and quite interesting book that attempts to summarize several decades of Chinese national philosophy and its effects on the country's politics. As many reviews with lower ratings have noted, it leaves out plenty and is most definitely incomplete. However, it is not intended to be a university textbook. The book is intended to be a summary that gives someone interested in Chinese political thought an introduction, and that author clearly states this in the beginning. I rece This is a well-written and quite interesting book that attempts to summarize several decades of Chinese national philosophy and its effects on the country's politics. As many reviews with lower ratings have noted, it leaves out plenty and is most definitely incomplete. However, it is not intended to be a university textbook. The book is intended to be a summary that gives someone interested in Chinese political thought an introduction, and that author clearly states this in the beginning. I recently moved to Hong Kong, and found this to be a fascinating book that has given me a slew of new questions and new views on international politics and even what ideas might be missing from the Western consciousness. I highly recommend it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Hans

    China is a much more dynamic country that many in the West understand. Despite its outward 'monolithic' appearance of unity and agreement (which they work very hard to portray) internally China has an extremely robust intellectual feud over the heart and soul of China. This book tries to capture some of those major themes and the individuals who represent them. There might only be one Political party but within that party and within the country there are several political polarities trying to pu China is a much more dynamic country that many in the West understand. Despite its outward 'monolithic' appearance of unity and agreement (which they work very hard to portray) internally China has an extremely robust intellectual feud over the heart and soul of China. This book tries to capture some of those major themes and the individuals who represent them. There might only be one Political party but within that party and within the country there are several political polarities trying to pull China in different directions. The reason this is important to understand is how these internal debates shift Chinese Domestic and Foreign Policy as these ideas wax and wane in popularity among the ruling elite.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Wei Ming

    The insight given by this book into the recent mindset of China's elite - the dilemmas of economic and political direction and how best to find their way out - is incredibly eye-opening for the more casually interested, and even those who are qualified in politics would probably find some new food for thought. The fact that Mark Leonard does this in less than 200 pages is a testament to the lean economy of his writing and his years of experience in Asian studies. The one book I'd recommend for a The insight given by this book into the recent mindset of China's elite - the dilemmas of economic and political direction and how best to find their way out - is incredibly eye-opening for the more casually interested, and even those who are qualified in politics would probably find some new food for thought. The fact that Mark Leonard does this in less than 200 pages is a testament to the lean economy of his writing and his years of experience in Asian studies. The one book I'd recommend for anyone interested in knowing more about what China might do next (plus a welcome change from the tired, recycled media views).

  20. 4 out of 5

    Henri Tournyol du Clos

    A few quotable titbits and anecdotes in the first half of this otherwise totally meaningless and irrelevant gruel, before it descends into pure farce with "The Chongqing experiment in participation" and stays down there till the end. Leonard is obviously completely ignorant in economics, notably the basics of growth modelling, and has not even bothered to look at the all-important demographics of the country he is writing about - yet that does not prevent him from writing authoritatively about p A few quotable titbits and anecdotes in the first half of this otherwise totally meaningless and irrelevant gruel, before it descends into pure farce with "The Chongqing experiment in participation" and stays down there till the end. Leonard is obviously completely ignorant in economics, notably the basics of growth modelling, and has not even bothered to look at the all-important demographics of the country he is writing about - yet that does not prevent him from writing authoritatively about present day China's most important aspect, its economic growth... The same charlatan wrote in 2005 a "Why Europe Will Run The 21st Century", LOL.

  21. 4 out of 5

    David

    the truth is really not about how China thinks..but to ask the question mainly how does America wants to play out the rest of the world in the coming future..fiat petro dollar, fiscal cliff, military imperialism by using and instigating China surroundings to prevent them from "rising"? such as suggesting Philippines or Japan to be permanent UN Security Council..constant military exercises..point is to provoke China..what does China think? nothing..they are not going to take the bait again since the truth is really not about how China thinks..but to ask the question mainly how does America wants to play out the rest of the world in the coming future..fiat petro dollar, fiscal cliff, military imperialism by using and instigating China surroundings to prevent them from "rising"? such as suggesting Philippines or Japan to be permanent UN Security Council..constant military exercises..point is to provoke China..what does China think? nothing..they are not going to take the bait again since 1840, Cultural Revolution..but who knows.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Pat

    Fascinating book because the author lets many of China's current thinkers talk themselves about the way they think China should be moving - and a liberal democracy does not appear to be the direction. This is a small book, but I really haven't seen anything else that explains both the thinking of the last 20-30 years which resulted in a pretty rapacious capitalism and some of the newer thinking which is looking at repairing some of the damage within an authoritarian framework.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    If even half of what Leonard says is accurate (and based on what I saw in Copenhagen, it is), the "game" is already over. What China has thought on, has come to pass and they have already taken over the world, the quantitative bit is irrelevant. His conclusion chapter though is very odd in that it seems like he hasn't read his own book. It's too superficial and I wonder if it's written to the line the publisher thought Western audiences would want to read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rodrigo

    Insightful. The global economic seismic change, led by the Chinese capitalism model is just the first part of the influence that China is going to have on the world stage. It remains to be seen, and actually might be the central theme of the first half of this century, how politics, order, and culture will depend greatly on China. The impact that we have seen on our economic lives, will be seen on our cultural lives.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Audra

    While this book has many interesting points about the growth of China and it's policies, it says little about philosophy; which is what it claims to expound upon. In essence, it's exactly similar to any other book written to inform about China in 2008, pre-Olympics. Nothing special but a good read nonetheless.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dave Applegate

    Leonard does an excellent job bringing an American up to speed with the meta political game of China. I would compare it to teaching a Chinese citizen how to interpret the Democrat and Republican struggles in the United States. Not necessarily the exact issues at hand, but more the motives, ideologies, leaders, histories, and directions of each.

  27. 4 out of 5

    dipayan

    A must read on China. The debate on China is entirely shaped by Western authors who have only the Western perspective to offer. Few have interpreted China through the lens of an Asian or through the lens of the homegrown Chinese thinktank. This book does precisely that and hence stands out.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gail

    china will probably never be a capitalistic democracy like the USA or even like Europe...they will become a power their own way-- slowly, methodically, we need to quickly learn to understand them because they are not going to start thinking like us.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    I don't know that I really liked this book, but I felt it was worth the time I spent reading it. The author opened my eyes to looking at China, it's economy and role in the world, in a well rounded way.

  30. 5 out of 5

    John

    Compact, easy-to-read overview of the current, surprisingly diverse, trends in Chinese thought, both political and economic. Very much introductory and written from a western perspective, but then that is most likely his target audience.

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