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The Writing on the Wall: Why We Must Embrace China as a Partner or Face It as an Enemy Hardcover – November 14, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (November 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743275284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743275286
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #780,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his latest take on global geopolitics, the economics editor of The Guardian performs an ambitious dissection of U.S. and Chinese economic policy, sounding the alarm that "the implications could not be more profound" should Western superpowers fail to shape China into a workable model of democracy and enlightenment. Delving into the 3,000 year history of the Chinese, Hutton introduces readers to Confucius and Mao, the rise of Chinese Communism and the political experiments that have left the Chinese economy "in an unstable halfway house-an economy that is neither socialist nor properly capitalist run by a party that is neither revolutionary nor subject to the normal constitutional checks and balances of even China's own Confucian past." The big questions-of how much longer the Communist party can deliver economically, of where the world will head if U.S. protectionism triumphs in painting the East as an enemy-are brilliantly analyzed, with an eye toward maximizing gain for all players: despite the fact that the U.S.'s "strategic trade policy-openness-is being exploited by a potential superpower rival," Hutton looks to the history of the U.S. to explain why, "if it can stay open, the U.S. will be rewarded by the ultimate achievement of transforming communist China and growing richer at the same time." This book pushes back from the center against those who see globalization as "a juggernaut threatening to carry us all away either to a free market nirvana-or hades" with sound historical overview and a rational call for economic pragmatism.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The authoritarian government of China, Communist in name, quasi capitalist in economics, and strenuously nationalistic in foreign policy, inspires many books advising how Western powers should deal with its growing power. This example from a prominent British economics journalist follows James Kynge's China Shakes the World (2006) and discusses the historical and contemporary economic data beneath the issues Kynge raises. Due to corruption, overinvestment of capital, underconsumption by the populace, and a reluctance to let its currency float, the Communist government, to summarize Hutton's thesis, is brittle and ever wary of popular opposition. Lest internal economic tensions prompt the regime to do something risky, such as invade Taiwan, Hutton advocates a host of policies both for the regime itself and the U.S. Critiquing the latter's international economic condition from a left-of-center perspective, Hutton urges the U.S. to shy away from Bush administration policies, stand for Enlightenment-style liberalism, and mollify rather than confront China. Confidently counseled, Hutton's informed views will engage those current on Chinese affairs. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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This will be easier said than done.
Paul Allaer
Will Hutton avoids a lot of technical jargon and presents his case in clear, easy to understand language.
Paul Tognetti
I highly recommend his book to any who would ask the hard questions.
Matthew M. Mcleod

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have been reading up a lot on China these days, because of my work primarily, including such books as "Mr. China", "China Shakes the World" and of course "The World is Flat", dealing with China indirectly. These books dealt primarily, if not exclusively, with China's economic transformation, and they are all most worthy of recommendation. And that angle is what I was also expecting from this book. Boy, was I ever wrong!

In "The Writing on the Wall: Why We Must Embrace China as a Partner or Face It as an Enemy" (421 pages), British author Will Hutton does of course also bring the staggering picture of China's recent economic rise. But that is just the beginning of the book. The real meat of this book comes from Hutton's careful evaluation of China's problems and challenges as the ruling Communist (and only) Party tries to walk the fine line between economic growth and yet being a state largely without the institutions of "Enlightenment" that allowed western states to achieve the status they have achieved in the 19th and 20th centuries. Problems abound everywhere, from corruption to disregard for the environment, employees' rights, health insurance, the respect/enforcement of law, and on and on. The author brings a lot of historical and well thought out perspectives on these issues along the way, for example the catch-22 the Chinese government finds itseld currently in on whether or not to revalue the renminbi currency, as most of the world is urging (either way, there are no good results for the Chinese, for reasons the author makes clear... so what is the Chinese government to do?).
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By AT on December 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A stimulating and absorbing read. At a time when the world is far from flat, the Writing on the Wall makes a powerful case for why the West needs to keep its markets open and understand the profound difficulties confronting China. A high savings rate, swelling forex, excessive dependence on exports and FDI, anemic domestic consumption, misallocation of capital, rising inequalities, corruption and a stifled private sector (around three fifth of its exports and nearly all its high tech exports are made by non-Chinese, foreign firms) all underscore the extent to which China reaching the limits of the sustainability of its current economic model. Partially disguised by a benign global environment, these imbalances are becoming more difficult to contain as China becomes bigger. To this extent, Hutton shows how these increasingly costly problems flow from deeper institutional deformations - a point understood by the CCP and its emphasis on harmonious development. Whether this can place, as the CCP believes, without the introduction of more external forms of accountability is less clear. This goes to the heart of the matter - and Hutton approaches it with flair and finesse.

In making the `economic' case for enlightenment values, Hutton steers a clear way between the dogmatic, frothy (if rather amusing) simplicities of both left and right. Hutton is clear to show how `Enlightenment values' differ from the crusading neocon agenda of markets and democracy. Pluralism is simply a response to human uncertainty and fallibility; its economic value derives from the multiple experimentation it permits. That is, it is the very antithesis of clunky top-down schemes.
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Format: Hardcover
I think it is fair to say that the conventional wisdom is that the United States and China are on a collision course. John J. Mearsheimer, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago summarizes this point of view this way; "China and the United States are destined to clash militarily and the United States has an interest to do all it can to forestall China's becoming economically rich enough to challenge it." Author Will Hutton vehemently disagrees with this point of view. In "The Writing On The Wall" Hutton presents a methodical, logical and compelling case for the United States to pursue policies that will only encourage the continued and inevitable modernization of China. Hutton's thoughtful and convincing analysis of the situation certainly turns conventional wisdom on its head.

According to Hutton, the continued mercurial growth of the Chinese economy is simply unsustainable given the current policies being pursued by the Communists who are still in charge in China. There is simply no way that the policies and political environment favored by those who are currently in power in Beijing can mesh with the continued and sustained economic growth that China is seeking. Time and again Hutton points to the nearly total lack of what he terms "soft" infrastructure as the primary reason why current Chinese policy is doomed to failure. This rather monolithic economic system lacks such fundamental cornerstones as a legitmate banking system, a free press and the ability of workers to organize. Add to that the fact that most major industries are still SOE (state owned enterprises) and it is plain to see why the major flaws in the Chinese economy are almost certain to rear their ugly heads in the near future with potentially devasting consequences for us all.
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