Where is China heading in the 21st century? Can its Communist Party survive? Will the US and China cooperate or compete in a dangerous future? Will China's economic boom be brought to a halt by environmental catastrophe? In this highly readable account, veteran journalist John Gittings sheds much light on modern Chinese history as he answers these vital questions.
Gittings, the Guardian's China specialist and East Asia editor for twenty years, offers a fascinating glimpse into Chinese history in the last half century, ranging from the early Peach-Blossom socialism, to the Great Leap Forward, the two Cultural Revolutions, the Hundred Flowers, the Gang of Four, and the Tiananmen Square massacre. He shows how China has undergone not one but two revolutions in the 60 years since Mao Zedong took the road to victory. The first revolution swept away the old corrupt society and sought to build a 'spotless' new socialism behind closed doors; the second, since Mao's death, has focused on an economic agenda which accepts the goals of global capitalism. Bringing his narrative to the present, Gittings concludes that environmental degradation and rising pollution represent the most serious threats to the Chinese people today. The nightmare scenario for China is not a collapse of the Party or of the banks, or that the rural masses will once again surround the towns as they did in the revolution. It is that China will run out of water.
Based on his three decades reporting on China, as a witness to all the major events from the Cultural Revolution onwards, Gittings here charts a complex but epic history of one of the world's superpowers.
"A fine and timely book.... It will be an invaluable source to those wishing to understand recent events in China." --Times Educational Supplement
"A stringent and incisive analysis of four shattering decades." --Guardian