by Willem van Kemenade ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 15, 1997
Everything you might want to know about the Chinese economic juggernaut, and then some, from a Dutch journalist who has covered the region for 25 years. China is now the third-largest economic power in the world. Foreign investment in the country has grown from $51 million in 1979 to a total of $200 billion in 1995, and its foreign trade from $20 billion to $281 billion over the same period. These figures are fairly well known, but the value of van Kemenade's book lies in the detail he supplies on how this growth has affected different regions of China. It lies, too, in the sensible things he has to say about the limitations on that growth: Its so-called ""socialist market economy,"" he notes, is still a ""fragile halfway house,"" and the prediction that the Chinese economy would exceed that of the US by the end of the century has now been discarded. In many other respects his emphases are unusual and refreshing. The author argues that both Hong Kong and Taiwan (in terms of both money and managerial skills) have made essential contributions to the metamorphosis of China from a predominantly state economy to economic pluralism, although he finds increasing divisions in Taipei over the wisdom of its growing economic involvement on the mainland. Indeed, he notes how skillfully the Chinese government has played upon the divisions between the Taiwanese government and its capitalists. And only the hard core of China's faithful in Hong Kong still pretend to believe that Hong Kong will have much autonomy after the transfer of power. More doubtful is his belief, so characteristic of observers of dictatorships before revolutions, that there is ""no mass demand"" for democracy, and that internal, more or less peaceful development is unlikely to bring it about. Nonetheless, one of the most thorough, comprehensive, and balanced assessments of the rise and likely evolution of a world-class economy.
Pub Date: June 15, 1997
Page Count: 384
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1997
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