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East and West: China, Power, and the Future of Asia Hardcover – September 14, 1998

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Editorial Reviews Review

Christopher Patten is modest about being the Last Governor ("a title invariably given capital letters to denote," he supposes, "its historic significance") of a British-ruled Hong Kong, and about his role in the transition of the colony to Chinese rule in 1997. The first third of East and West recounts Patten's struggle to leave the colony's residents with some assurances that they would have certain democratic rights once they became Chinese subjects, and he is frankly regretful about the extent to which those efforts failed. The tortuous diplomatic maneuvering of those years and the colorful players are depicted with vigor and humor, and Patten adds lively first-person anecdotes absent from Jonathan Dimbleby's detailed analysis of the handover in The Last Governor.

East and West then moves to a much wider arena. "I believed," Patten writes, "that the values Hong Kong represented were the values of the future in Asia as everywhere else." With common sense and a wealth of statistics, Patten refutes the notion that distinctly Asian values can explain the success of Asia's economic "tigers." The book becomes a well-argued and sometimes passionate exploration of the universal relevance of liberal democracy, human rights, and market economics. Patten is a sharp, well-read statesman, and though he downplays his role as that of a political functionary, one might well wish that higher-ups displayed some of his insight and clarity.

From Publishers Weekly

Asia-watchers can't afford to miss Patten's trenchant book, which is part memoir, part political treatise and part rattling secular sermon. As the last British governor of Hong Kong (he took the job in 1992), Patten steered the negotiations for the handover of the colony to China in 1997, while still working to strengthen Hong Kong's institutions and infrastructure. As well as detailing the transition, he wittily and intrepidly tackles broader, highly topical issues. How should we view the stunning growth and recent crisis of Asian "tiger economies" such as Singapore and Taiwan? Patten's crisp and commonsensical answers leave no room for wishy-washy cultural relativism. "The same laws of political gravity apply to everyone, everywhere," he says; "the apples and the lychees descend perpendicularly on every continent." And how should we treat China, which many Western observers consider enigmatic and culturally unique? Forthrightly! urges Patten, and delivers a blistering indictment of the Chinese government's treatment of its own people and the West's cosseting. A self-styled "liberal conservative," Patten champions small, thrifty governments, well-regulated financial institutions, rule of law, guarantee of individual rights and a safety net protecting workers. The roar of this book was apparently too loud for Rupert Murdoch, who refused to let HarperCollins U.K. publish it. The controversy should simply heighten the buzz among pundits and policy makers, both in East and West. Editor, Peter Bernstein; rights Chelsea West Inc; author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books; 1 edition (September 14, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812930002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812930009
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,243,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

The actual germane information could have been condensed to about 50 pages.
Lemas Mitchell
This book would be loved by those who long for Chinese freedom and it makes some interesting predictions about what the future may hold.
For this with an interest in public policy, China, and an important historcal event this book is well worth th read.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
Last British Governor Chris Patten remains optimistic about Hong Kong's future in this book; as long, he argues as the high degree of personal freedom the Hong Kong Chinese enjoyed under British rule is respected by Peking; perhaps a tall order, given that most of Hong Kong's population is made up of millions of refugees who fled China for the safety of the British colony between the 1950s and the 1980s. Yet it is good to read again the old arguments for decency and fair play that I heard Patten make while I lived in Hong Kong in the 90s. Patten offers many examples of British law and Chinese hard work paying off in old Hong Kong. This book is "the best case scenario" argument for Hong Kong's future. It reminds me of the cool, rational responses Patten would give to the latest strident denunciation from Peking about "colonial oppression"; Patten was for awhile there practically the only voice that would patiently remind China that it was up to Peking to reassure all its millions of citizens who had fled, and perhaps it was time for Peking to reassure all those people it was about to take back. The only thing I feel Patten doesn't play up enough about Hong Kong (I assume to help Hong Kong save "face", so important in Chinese culture) is the fact that any of those refugees who arrived in Hong Kong with marketable skills and talents tended to emigrate further, to the First World, to begin new lives and new careers there; making those who were stuck behind all the more in need of reassurance from China.Read more ›
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By on March 31, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Christopher Patten's sharp analysis based on his unique perspective is an interesting read for anyone interested in Hong Kong and China. The book certainly has moments where Patten as colonial leader or lifetime politician show through, but these only add to the rich quality of this intriguing book. Those who find it dull should stick to Crichton, Michener, and Koontz. For this with an interest in public policy, China, and an important historcal event this book is well worth th read. For a personal memoir check out Ting-Xing Ye's A Leaf in the Bitter Wind a well written book about a woman's famil history and incredible life experiences.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Matthew M. Yau on July 31, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Written by Christopher Patten, the controversial last governor of Hong Kong under the British colonial rule, East and West is neither a book of memoir nor a hulking self-justification. Patten deftly draws on his experiences as Hong Kong Governor to formulate a number of arguments about Asia, about the conduct and implementation of economic policy, about the components of good governance, and about the relationship between political freedom and free economy.
Natives of Hong Kong would have to agree that Patten had struggled (wrestled with the Chinese leadership) in Beijing) to implement democratic institutions that would ensure Hong Kong's continued vitality and ability to prosper. On the verge of the 1997 handover which casted qualms for political and economic uncertainty in many Hong Kongers, Patten was in an awkward position where he was sandwiched between the Hong Kongers and the Chinese leadership. In several occasions (including this book), Patten stigmatizes the totalitarian system of the Chinese Communist system.
There had been incidences in which Hong Kongers accused Patten of betraying the colony and its 6 million occupants, of surrendering a free capitalist city to the ultimate Communist tyranny, with no negotiation and guarantee of human rights, freedom of speech, and autonomy. In the book, Patten draws on these sensitive issues and struggles to give his readers an up-close-and-personal look of the real Asia, not just Hong Kong, in all of its diversity.
Patten started penning the book back in 1996 and many of the events on which he has drawn in writing this book took place at a time when the Asian (Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Hong Kong) economies seemed to be climbing like rockets.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Keith E. Webb VINE VOICE on December 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
The year 1997 was a milestone for the world-it marked the end of the colonial era as the British returned Hong Kong to China. The last British governor of Hong Kong, Christopher Patten, oversaw the five years preceding the handover, including the handover itself. This period was one of turbulence, falling on the heels of the Tiananmen Square massacre in June 1989. In his book, Patten defends his actions as governor and does deeper to reveal his philosophy of government, economics and so-called Asian values.

There is no hiding the adversarial relationship that Patten felt with the Chinese government. He squarely places the blame on Chinese. He felt during every negotiation was he was harangued and harassed by Chinese negotiators whose only goal appeared to be to drag negotiations out as long as possible in order to wear out the British. Patten felt harassed by his own government as well. He was accused of antagonizing China and was encouraged to be patient and show respect, and above all not to irritate the Chinese.

Patten's main sticking point with both the Chinese and British China experts was on the democratization of Hong Kong prior to the handover. One irony of history is the failure of the British to install a democratic government process into Hong Kong in during their decades of rule, only to rush the process prior to handover to Communist China. This was done largely to give the people a voice in their liberties and freedom in their self-determination before the big, bad Communists took over and began ordering the people of Hong Kong around. In reality, the British didn't run Hong Kong with a democratic form of government either. Britain ruled Hong Kong-and that's what it was rule, not a democratic process.
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