COMING ALIVE: China After Mao by Roger Garside

COMING ALIVE: China After Mao

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The pent-up frustrations that were released by the populace when Zhou Enlai died, and which resulted in a riot in Tienanmen Square, were the most obvious manifestation that something was changing in China. Garside, former First Secretary in the British Embassy in Peking, arrived back in China after a six-year absence to witness the power struggle between the Gang of Four and Deng Xiapoing that occupied the two years after Zhou and Mao's deaths in 1976, An unbridled champion of Deng, Garside describes the China of the Cultural Revolution in terms worthy of Dostoevsky, and hails the strange phenomenon of ""Democracy Wall,"" where, in 1978-79, the Chinese demonstrated their discontent with the state and party apparatuses and their desire for freedom of speech and democracy. Garside waded in among the masses at the Wall, and records his conversations and the contents of some of the many broadsides affixed to it; his account is noteworthy not least for this description. But he gets caught between extolling China's opening to the rest of the world and the economic reforms introduced by Deng and his followers (wage differentials, the introduction of market mechanisms, etc.), and the realization, on the other hand, that the ""higher"" values associated with Mao--of social sacrifice, equality, socialism, etc.--are still present in the character of the Chinese. Garside thinks Deng is aware of this and is carefully circumscribing the introduction of new ideas and techniques; but he avoids the issue of whether or not Mao's values can survive in Deng's China--very much on Orville Schell's mind in Watch Out For the Foreign Guests! (p. 25). Too much all-out acclaim in many places, but informative.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1981
Publisher: McGraw-Hill