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The China Fantasy: How Our Leaders Explain Away Chinese Repression Hardcover – February 15, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


"If Americans revered veteran China correspondents the way Chinese communists revere their founding revolutionaries, former Los Angeles Times bureau chief Jim Mann would justly be hailed as an 'immortal.'"
-Clay Chandler, editor, Fortune Asia

"Mr. Mann has perfectly described the blend of hope and cynicism that currently underpins American policy toward China."
-Gordon S. Chang, The New York Sun --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

James Mann is author in residence at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and the author of Rise of the Vulcans, About Face, and Beijing Jeep. He was previously the Los Angles Times Beijing bureau chief.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Printing edition (February 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670038253
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670038251
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #908,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By S. Yu on March 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
At first glance, "China Fantasy" by James Mann is just another line of a lengthy string of books since the mid-1990s ("China Dream; Coming Collapse of China; Coming Conflict with China"; etc etc) expressing Western concern about where the rapid changes in China are leading it. However, the strength of The China Fantasy is that it breaks with mainstream tradition in important ways.

Firstly, China hawks since the mid-1990s have traditionally come from the Right wing, aligned closely with neoconservatism, and driven primarily by security threat perception to an extent, in my opinion, which has always been exaggerated, but whose excesses led to the persecution of a Taiwanese American scientist toward the end of the decade (and created a fearful political climate for Chinese Americans). Others may feel that those fears were justified. Personally, it is a pleasant surprise to see a China expert who passionately opposes the Chinese government on the grounds of its human rights atrocities, and who reaches out to both political parties in the US (if anything, Mann's focus is more leftish). Mann has seized a certain moral high ground for the China hawks taken straight from the post-Tiananmen spirit.

Secondly and even more importantly, Mann presents a genuinely new idea from the perspective of the mainstream media of the past decade, an idea whose time has come: the possibility that China may continue to prosper, but fail to democratize its political system, and that the growing middle class which is seen as a force for democracy may become a force against it.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Malvin VINE VOICE on April 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The China Fantasy" by James Mann succeeds in thoroughly debunking the widely-held view that capitalism will inevitably bring democracy to China. Providing a brief historical account of U.S.-Chinese relations from the Nixon administration to the present, Mr. Mann makes clear that business opportunism has driven the agenda at the expense of human rights and democracy in both countries. Mr. Mann's decades of subject matter expertise have prepared him to present a concise and persuasive work on an important topic that should be widely read and discussed by policy makers and concerned citizens alike.

Mr. Mann's specific focus is on the public relations aspect of U.S.-Chinese relations. Mr. Mann contends that a succession of business-friendly politicians have sold the American public on what he calls the 'soothing scenario', or the prospect of a democracy that will somehow emerge as a result of China's deepening economic ties with the West. Mr. Mann explains that this rubric has provided cover for high-ranking U.S. officials who have often used their connections to smooth the way for multinational corporations to set up shop in China in order to exploit its abundant supply of cheap labor. However, Mr. Mann provides a number of counter arguments explaining why the soothing scenario is a highly problematic proposition, with perhaps the most persuasive point being that democracy could allow the masses of destitute Chinese peasants to easily undo the privileges that the relatively small Chinese upper and middle classes have enjoyed under the protection of the single-party system.

Mr. Mann alerts us to the importance of demanding China to enact democratic reforms sooner rather than later, when the Chinese economy might become too strong for outside influence to have any effect.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Hubert Shea on August 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is about hidden assumption and logic that US politicians, scholars, and business elites use when they view the problems of China's political system. According to Mann, the mainstream view of China's political system in the US is the Soothing Scenario (P.2). Advocates of the Soothing Scenario maintain that if China can sustain its rapid economic growth, China will be eventually destined for democracy or political liberalization. Therefore the US government should try to integrate China into the international community (P.103) and trade freely with China. Another mainstream view of China's political system in the US is the Upheaval Scenario (P.7). Purveyors of this scenario including Gerald Segal and Gordon Chang predict that China is on the verge of political unrest and economic collapse because the one-party political system is not capable for handling a multitude of political and social problems such as the continuing prevalent of corruption and growing disparity between rich and poor. To Mann, both scenarios are at best questionable and at worst outright fallible.

In this book, Mann advocates that China's rapid economic growth can be sustained but the Communist Party continues to arrest and detain political dissidents and China will remains entirely undemocratic (P.11). The so-called Third Scenario maintains that for decades, Chinese political leaders including Deng xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, and Hu Jintao have never endorsed any democratic political activity or tolerated any troublesome public opinion that is against their state policies (P.59).
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