Recently I found China: Opposing Viewpoints while walking through the East Asia and Middle East section of my public library. Since I’ve had pretty good luck with the Opposing Viewpoints Series I decided to take a chance on yet another book from their series. Well, after finishing it the other day I’m happy I did. Of all the books I’ve read in the series, this one devoted to China is the best.
Just like the other books in this series, China: Opposing Viewpoints is a collection of essays organized in a kind of “point/counter point” template. Containing material from not just familiar sources such as the Wall Street Journal, The Economist and The New York Times, the collection also includes pieces from more specialized publications such as Far Eastern Economic Review, Foreign Affairs, The Lancet and US War College Army Quarterly. NGO Amnesty International’s report on human rights abuses has been included as well essays from such groups as the libertarian think tank the Cato Institute and the liberal/progressive Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. Lastly, one can even find official speeches and reports from both the US and Chinese governments, which I thought helpled bring a sense of authority to the anthology.
To me anyway, what made this book better than the other books I’ve read in this series was its wide panorama of discussed subjects. While I wasn’t surprised to find essays discussing human rights, economics, military affairs and religious freedom, I was pleased to see included in this collection essays dealing with pollution, health care, intellectual property rights and freedom of the media. Lastly, my favorite essays in the collection were Bruce Gilley’s “China Cannot Sustain Economic Growth”, Jacques deLisle’s “The Communist Party is Thwarting Liberal Reform and Minxin Pei’s “China Faces a Governance Crises”.
While really not a fault of its own, since the book was published in 2006 and some of its essays, despite being very well-written and insightful, were originally published back in the early 2000’s. Hence, the book is starting to feel a bit dated. Fortunately, most if not all of the information presented still seems fresh and relevent. However, I would urge the publisher to release an updated version, if it hasn’t already done so.
With China a growing force in the world, hardly a day goes by without something in news dealing with its political and economic rise as a global player. Recently, Wilson Quarterly featured an excellent article by Yasheng Huang which described the much-overlooked role China’s rural regions played in fueling the nation’s early economic growth and the role those regions needs to play once again if China wishes to increase the size of its surprisingly small middle class. In addition, a few days ago the New York Times published a very timely and interesting article on China’s attempt to start an 24-hour news channel in hopes of promoting a positive image of itself to the global community.
In conclusion, I found this to be an excellent collection of essays. If you would like to learn more about China, I would start with China: Opposing Viewpoints.