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China Shakes the World: A Titan's Rise and Troubled Future -- and the Challenge for America Hardcover – September 27, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, binding its billion-plus population more tightly to the global economic system, the Asian giant's prodigious appetite for food, technology and natural resources has dramatically accelerated profound changes already well underway across the planet. Kynge, the Financial Times's former Beijing bureau chief, makes the voracious "appetites" of the new China his constant concern, as he uncovers the sources of and limitations on the giant country's epochal growth. Beginning with a scene in Germany's postindustrial Ruhr—where a steel mill is sold, deconstructed and shipped more than 5,000 miles for reassembly near the banks of the Yangtze River—Kynge assesses the socioeconomic transformations of China's low "Industrial Revolution–era" labor costs and modern production technology at home and abroad. But for all its world-shaking potential, notes Kynge, "China's endowments are deeply lopsided." Key weaknesses—such as a shortage of arable land, serious environmental devastation and pollution, systemic corruption and a dearth of resources—are conversely helping to ensure that China will have to manage its growing hegemony in a symbiotic manner with partners on the economic and geopolitical playing fields. Despite the subtitle, and a chapter devoted to China's acquisition of U.S. technologies, Kynge focuses at least as much on China's significance for Western Europe. Overall, Kynge's crisp assessment of the dynamics involved is both authoritative and eye-opening. (Sept. 27)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

A former bureau chief of the Financial Times in Beijing, Kynge demonstrates how China's thirst for jobs, raw materials, energy, and new markets--and its export of goods, workers, and investments--will dramatically reshape world trade and politics. China's appetite, though unpremeditated and inarticulate, has become a source of major change in the world. Napoleon said, "Let China sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world." In the early days of the twenty-first century, China has started shaking the world with its prowess in manufacturing. Not all is rosy, however, because China has serious problems with its environmental resources, severe pollution, and institutionalized corruption within the government, the legal system, the police force, and the media. The question Kynge offers answers to is how the world will cope with China's extremes of both strength and weakness. Gail Whitcomb
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1st Printing edition (September 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618705643
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618705641
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #369,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James Kynge, a journalist in Asia for two decades, is the former bureau chief of the Financial Times in Beijing. Fluent in Mandarin, he has visited every Chinese province and is the recipient of numerous journalism awards. He has spoken at the World Economic Forum and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and has appeared on CNN, the BBC, and National Public Radio.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In 2005, the Financial Times instigated its Business Book of the Year award. Last year's winner was Thomas Friedman's "The World Is Flat", which is still in the best sellers lists 16 months after its release (and deservedly so). This year, James Kynge (in a prior life a reporter at the Financial Times) wins the award with this book.

In "China Shakes the World: A Titan's Rise and Troubled Future--and the Challege for America" (270 pages), Kynge spends the first part of the book bringing us a vivid picture of the awakening economic giant that China is becoming, and things will only get more vivid from here on. Interesting tidbits that the author brings us include that the architecture of the once-historic (and now revitalized) city of Chongqing is patterned after Chicago, itself once the fastest growing city; or that suicides among young rural women in China rank as one of its greatest social ills (500 per day, and 56 percent of the world's femal suicides occur in China). After going into a thorough anaylsis of the Italian textile industry's problems, Kynge makes the dry observation that "the simple, unpalatable truth is that in many areas of manufacturing, European companies cannot compete in the long run, no matter what countermeasures they or the EU may take".

As for China's "technology gap", Kynge observes that "the potent lure of the 1.3 billion person market, no matter how illusory it may be, has helped China to leapfrog some of the technology barriers that had stymied several of the Southeast Asian 'tiger' economies in the 80s and 90s". In the second part of the book, the author exposes some of the problems China faces.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Izaak VanGaalen on February 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
James Kynge, Financial Times bureau chief in Beijing, discusses not only the challenges faced by America in this excellent new book, but those faced by China itself. One of these challenges is the enormous demographic and economic growth that China has experienced in the last 20 years. Today there are 40 cities with populations of over a million and another 53 with populations between 500,000 and a million. The city of Chongking is growing by about 300,000 a year. In 2005, 400 million people were urban and by 2050 another 600 to 700 million will be urbanized. The accompanying challenge is sustaining the 10% annual economic rate to support this population surge.

China has probably broken every record in the history of economic development and Kynge goes over many of the statistics that other China-watchers have already enumerated. What is unique about this book is that it gives equal time to the dark underside of this story. Front and center is the problem of pollution and environmental degradation. Of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, 16 can be found in China. A majority of the largest cities - 400 of the 668 largest - are experiencing water shortages. By 2050, two-thirds of China's ice field will have melted due to global warming. China is already the second largest producer of greenhouse gases after the US. The challenge will be growing without doing irreparable damage to the environment.

China a major and growing importer of natural resources and driving up global commodity prices. With their growing appetite for raw materials such as lumber, many of the world's rainforests in Indonesia, Myanmar, Central Africa, and Brazil are being logged - illegaly - to be sold in China. An area of rainforest about the size of Belgium disappears every year.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Peter Thomas Senese - Author. on October 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
James Kynge's 'China Shakes the World: A Titan's Rise and Troubled Future -- and the Challenge for America' is a completely authoritative and comprehensive study based upon extensive and reliable research of what has become industrialist China. Author Kynge does an outstanding job in presenting internal and external global issues China faces today, and how its needs combined with its resources, or lack of them, will direct China in the future. Kynge reviews how China's problems with its environmental resources, a severe pollution that is beginning to cripple its core, government corruption that actually has become part of the norm, a legal system that makes sacrifice to human rights and rights of freedom for its citizens, a Gestapo-like police force, and a media that bows to censorship all together are crutches that will force China to rely on global trade, and so, global cooperation. The author is also diligent in showing the mass resources and capability of China's manufacturing facilities, and why there is no end in sight to there economic boom. Clearly there is a prosperous balance that has developed between China and the United States, and China and Western Europe. Kynge presents the dynamic issues of this complex web in a way that is most educational, backed with unquestionable foundational data, reader friendly, and compelling . . .
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48 of 55 people found the following review helpful By J. Sun on November 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have lived in the US for 15 years and come to learn this. There is so many differences and misunderstandings between us, arguments and conflicts are inevitable in the years of globalization. While I give credit to the author for presenting all the issues in China, Mr. Kynge gave no perspectives or recommendations to either side. In contrast, Mrs. Meredith took a very positive approach, in her book 'The elephant and the dragon', by pointing out what the US government should do to mitigate the crisis. Mr. Kynge's attitude was pessimist and negative (e.g., the ending). The book gives misguidance to the readers especially for those who do not really know China. It may come from the author's personal experience and belief, but I want to tell him that living in China for 20 years and speaking fluent mandarin do not mean you truly understand the people and culture.

Recently there are many books talking about the rise of China and a genuine concern/conclusion/impression is China's 'Political instability' and its 'Military threat to the world'. To my opinion, the only 'Political instability' for the sake of people has to come from the gradual and peaceful self reform within the Chinese system under the influence/pressure from the west. Democracy has to be built upon a certain level of wealth of the society. Do you care whom to vote if you're worrying next meal for your family? Did the Russian people get a good democratic benefit after the collapse of their communism? To understand if China poses military treat to other nations, simply look back to the history. And a better question would be who has really been posing military threat to the world now?
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