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The Coming Collapse of China


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About the Author

Gordon Chang has lived and worked in China for almost two decades, most recently in Shanghai, as counsel to the American law firm Paul Weiss. His articles on China have been published in The New York Times, The Asian Wall Street Journal, The Far Eastern Economic Review, and The International Herald Tribune. This is his first book.


Predicting the rapid fall of the Communist government, Chang, counsel to an American law firm in Shanghai and freelance journalist with the New York Times, the Asian Wall Street Journal and elsewhere, attempts to support his prediction by discussing a number of phenomena in China: the volatile discontent of political minorities and the unemployed; the futility of state-owned enterprises and industrial policies; the vulnerability of the private sector and the WTO economy; the threats the Internet poses to party censorship; the dangers lurking behind the banking system; and the failing role of Marxist ideology. By maintaining power at all costs and suppressing dissent, the regime, Chang says, has jeopardized the economy and Chinese society at large. His adept business policy evaluation and socioeconomic criticism ("Party cadres... insist on commanding as if they still had a command economy") connect names and anecdotes with otherwise abstract social ills. But his success ends there, for his sweeping historical analyses and social forecasts falter. "Today the people no longer want Mao's revolution or the party that administers it. And so the People's Republic is going to fall, just like its predecessors," writes Chang, hastily recounting the quick endings of the Qing Dynasty and the Kuomintang. His invocations of the "power of the Chinese people," or of an imaginary individual who will one day "end the Chinese state as it now exists," read more like political soap opera than judicious analyses. Preoccupied with such rhetorical (and often highly cynical) flourishes, he fails to pay adequate attention to something that would have better supported his predictions: the imminent intra-Party power turnover in 2002. Chang needs more than denunciations and calls for change to support his bold prophetic claims. (On-sale date: Aug. 14) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

The thesis of this provocatively titled but solidly argued book is simple and persuasive. Beneath the glitter of China's recent successes lies a deeply flawed economic system dominated by a sclerotic, fearful, and corrupt Communist elite. Bereft of solutions to the structural problems that plague China's economy and unwilling to loosen their grip on power, these men tinker with half-measures that are doomed to fail and increasingly resort to coercion to maintain their control. Chang, an American lawyer who lived and worked in China for almost 20 years, writes in an acerbic, almost sassy style and illustrates his points with numerous concrete examples from the past decade. The book is not merely a warning to anyone contemplating investment in China but an eye-opener to "Sino-optimists" in general. Chang's apocalyptic prediction of the Communist regime's collapse after a failed attempt to conquer Taiwan may not be the most likely of alternate scenarios, but it is at least plausible. Unfortunately, his hope that a liberal and democratic China will replace the current authoritarian regime seems less plausible. For all academic and larger public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/01.] Steven I. Levine. Univ. of Montana, Missoula Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"A compelling account of the rot in China's institutions and the forces at work to end the Communist Party's monopoly on power."
-James A. Dorn, Cato Institute, Washington D.C., co-editor of China's Future: Constructive Partner or Emerging Threat?

"Quite simply the best book I know about China's future. Gordon Chang writes marvelously and knows China well. I hope everyone concerned with that country will pay careful consideration to what he sees ahead."
-Arthur Waldron, Director of Asian Studies, American Enterprise Institute; Lauder Professor of International Relations, University of Pennsylvania "A sobering look at how the unique Chinese experiment of market reforms under one-party dictatorship could go wrong. The author has combined first-hand experience with painstaking research. The often gloomy picture of the violent clashes between the forces of change and those of reaction is relieved by lively anecdotes and witty storytelling. A tour de force not to be missed."
-Willy Wo-Lap Lam, Senior China Analyst at CNN's Hong Kong office and author of "The Era of Jiang Zemin" "Damning data and persuasive arguments that should set some Communist knees a-knocking."
-Kirkus "Gordon Chang takes us on a vividly observed voyage behind the scenes of China's so-called economic miracle, where it turns out that institutions are shaky, relationships corrupt, and success precarious. Chinese society is seething with unrest, and the ruling party is split. Chang has lived and done business in China for years. He is not afraid of making boldjudgments. When he warns that China's two centuries of troubles are still not over, we had better take notice."
-Andrew J. Nathan, Professor of Political Science, Columbia University; Co-Editor, The Tiananmen Papers

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