Automotive Holiday Deals Up to 50% Off Select Books Shop Men's Athletic Shoes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Prime Music Sweepstakes egg_2015 All-New Amazon Fire TV Grooming Deals Gifts Under $50 Amazon Gift Card Offer cm15 cm15 cm15 $30 Off Amazon Echo $15 Off All-New Fire Kindle Voyage AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Shop Now HTL

Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

34 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2006
For those who's never been to China or lived there, this book might be a little out of their scope. Afterall, the only things you hear in the news are how if Walmart were a country, it'd be China's 7th biggest trading partner, or how Intel is building their fabs in China (away from Shanghai towards inland to further reduce cost). For those people, go read on how China will take over the world economically by the middle of this century and believe what you want.

For those who Does have any clue about China's political system is keenly aware that the entire Chinese economy is still tied into the political system, and that is just a time bomb waiting to explode. If the CCP were to collapse, half of the country's wealth will be exported and rest will go down with the defunct banking system. This book digs into the depth of the current geo-political situation, and is so accurate that the People's Congress is taking note and implementing changes (albeit slowly) previously pointed out by the author. If you want to know the REAL story behind the Chinese economic system and where it'll truely head in the next several decades, this is THE book to read. Not some "economic model that projects blah, blah, blah and threaten's US's position in the world," where the author is totally cluelss of all fundamentals of the Chinese economy other than published economic numbers.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2012
Pei did an excellent work. He supports his argumentation with elaborate research including facts and numbers. The recent elimination of Bo Xilai tends to confirm that China is effectively trapped. And as of now, most of the problems identified by Pei do not seems to disappear but to be more and more accurate.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
18 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2006
Pei is well known is his field for writing about the political divide between the CCP and the Chinese people. This book does an excellent job in covering the realities of the economic and political situations within China. The vast majority of the book is actually quite an easy read, but the beginning of the book can be challenging for those that aren't use to conceptual models (hence 4 stars).

I highly recommend that those interested in China read this book. While I do not agree with specific points, Pei's general ideas are sound and provide lots to think about. China's government (read the CCP) must withdraw from the market if the economic reforms laid down by Deng Xiaoping are to continue and be successful. However, as Pei points out, by withdrawing from the markets, the CCP will lose a lot of its hard power.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 8, 2014
This book is carefully researched and benefits by the authors access and ongoing monitoring of Chinese sources. He's able to capture nuance that others have missed. It's a particularly important work since it also addresses and is even caught up in a thread in international development literature that predicts that growth in a nation's wealth and in related differentiation of labor and interest groups will lead to democracy. A major thesis of the book is that this isn't happening in China because CPC regime stability requires side payments to various corrupt and well placed elites to remain in power AND that a major concern of the CPC is to maintain a monopoly of power. This is certainly important and well documented but doesn't really do enough to question the veracity of the core theory. In fact it's odd that after generations of U.S. policy failures predicated on a link between foreign aid, FDI, wealth generation and democracy that a major scholar would still have faith in this underlying thesis. It could be that U.S. post WW II successes in the democratization of Japan and Germany have framed our thinking but counter examples from Vietnam through Iraq and a rich literature on the various and unique paths to democracy even among the oldest democracies should prevent facile assumptions.
Other criticisms of Minxin Pei's otherwise excellent work should also be seen in light of its 2009 publication date. It was written before Xi Jinping assumed the office of General Secretary and publicly sought reforms of some of the practices at issue. One might even assume that he or his staff read Pei's work since he's targeting both he evils identified and some of the processes that support them. It remains destabilizing that so much of China's newfound wealth remains on eastern coastal provinces at the expense of the rest of the country. Since political stability is prized by an elite that saw the alternative in the Great Leap and GPCR Xi has supporters in his quest to wrest power from those interests whose greed works against ongoing stability. However, the quest for stability is also a block to those who would promote democracy even if corruption and rent seekers cease to block the way. Chinese elites I've met are democracy phobic in a manner not dissimilar to American Federalists watching the excesses of the French Revolution while favoring constitutional limitations like the Electoral College and Supreme Court. This is another reason we will not be witnessing a democratic transition in China anytime soon.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2007
I am not a political scientist, economist or expert on China, and I found this book quite clear and understandable. It is a highly intelligent, in-depth and convincing analysis of China as a dysfunctional, 'predatory' state. It is highly unlikely it will evolve in positive directions of increasing democracy. While it may collapse, the future may instead be that of a corrupt, stagnating failed state which exports its problems to the rest of the world - failure to control drugs, arms sales to dangerous regimes, aids, illegal immigration, etc etc. An important antidote to all the self-serving business propaganda on China's economic miracle.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
29 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2006
Reading this book is almost like reading "China's democratic future" all over again. It is all too familiar how normative idealism ruins positive analysis in these two books. The difference is: this one is disguised by more theoretical tools, the other one was an outright shout for a democratic China.

Democracy is a beautiful linear process that can be attributed to "growth determinism". Once the per capita income reaches $1000, then just "smile, you are on candid camera". The development theory is summarized by Pei as all about how growth determines democratization, and the evidence of growth not causing democracy is easily dismissed by seeing it as a short term phenomenon (rising prosperity makes political monopoly more valueable). If this logic is valid, one can also argue that the state's decentralized corrupted "grabbing hand" can also be a short term phenomenon for the long term reform. It's all about your starting point of analysis.

The pre-determined linear ideology of Pei leads to another glaring flaw: he fails to analyze the cause of democracy, as if what appears to be a correlation between growth and democracy is the causation. Douglass North is frequently quoted in this book, yet the major feat of North is: he starts with the cause of economic growth, not a linear ideology from the "prison of one culture". Given this, the discussion of gradual reform and shock therapy is a "fake issue" and a major distraction. More important, "trapped transition" is more a normative tautology than a useful analytical concept. When Pei wears a pair of dark glasses with an idealistic picture in mind, what else can he see except problems? What else can readers experience except his troubled mentality in dealing with China's achievements and problems (the whole book simply boils down to an ad hoc pattern of "on the one hand...on the other hand...")? As for the critical question on "why China is doing great if everything is really so dark?" Pei brushed aside the challenge with only a few paragraphs of guessing work. If one uses John Rawls' "justice principles" for the reality in the US, he can also argue what we see is a "trapped democracy" which is "for the few people, from the few people, and by the few people". And he can also get a reviewer to hail "trapped democracy" as a new concept for the satisfaction of self-congratulation.

Put it simply, when the target of analysis is totally Chinese, Pei is still obsessed with "Leninism" and the cold war ideology. As a Chinese, he didn't even talk about Chinese culture; as a US educated, he failed to start from the realistic perspective of "public choice" (rather than use it selectively to support his normative conclusion). If social scientists are all moral scientists, you think all research can still be fun?

It is really sad to see another serious Chinese scholar again fell into the one culture linear ideological trap. Assuming this book starts with the cause and reason of democracy, with the employment of available theories and a peaceful mind of multi-culturalism, we might see more fruitful results. One quick example is to analyze how each reform approach is actually structured by the contextual reality and how the state evolves and functions as a grabbing hand or a helping hand (instead of asserting gradual reform leads to a predatory state, which is nothing more than an ad hoc analysis); Other questions can be asked include: Are those "copy and paste" democracy (Taiwan, Mexico, the Philippines, India) and "plug and play" democracy (Iraq) actually doing well in economic growth and government cleanness? What is really beyond the simple installation of democracy? Will culture fail in "making democracy work"? What is behind the actual enforcement of democratic institutions?

The development of cognitive science and cultural psychology may be helpful for being self-conscious of the intellectual thinking trap, but the reality of research sociology may not be really in accord with a more sensible research direction. I wish I am wrong on this.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
19 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2007
While the writing in this book is quite smooth, it by no means is a scholarly work (though in the guise of scholarship). The author picks and uses data and evidence that only fits his/her own political/ideological (rather than theoretical) framework, and ignores those that have been well researched and documented. In addition, most works--theoretical or empirical--cited this book is quite obsolete (except those from the internet, which tended to be superficial), even though more up-to-date and important scholarly works were already available in the body of the literature. For example, well before the book was published, there were already new, major findings about Chinese people's support for the government and democratization, and their political participation in both rural and urban settings. But the author totally ignored these new findings, probably because these findings were not very convenient to his/her political/ideological framework. More disappointingly, the book is full of the ideology/emotion-charged, groundless, and arbitrary statements (or beliefs) that you should never see in scholarly works. In short, this book has decisively departed from scholarly or scientific inquiry.
77 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Customers who viewed this also viewed
Chinese Politics: State, Society and the Market (Asia's Transformations)
Chinese Politics: State, Society and the Market (Asia's Transformations) by Peter Hays Gries (Paperback - February 27, 2010)


Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.