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Top Contributor: Cookingon December 15, 2011
Being an AsianAm married to a Chinese immigrant, it's hard to describe to Westerns how different the culture in China is. But without understanding China, it will hobble us, both individually and as a country, when we try to make them fit into our Western-centric viewpoint.

Kynge's got impeccable credentials as a Sinologist and is one of the few who truly seems to understand how China's history both invigorates and hobbles them in the 21st century. Despite this book being six years old, it remains relevant and fair in its viewpoint.

China is its own worst enemy, and with it so prominent on the global scene - financially, politically, militarily - Kynge's book goes a long way towards making this giant, unwieldy, complex country more understandable to Westerns. In view of the 12/14/2011 NYTimes story on the Wukan village uprising against local authority corruption, "China Shakes the World" proves itself to still be an essential read even now.

This book should be required reading for ALL Washington politicians...well, assuming they can actually read, which sometimes we all must doubt.
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VINE VOICEon September 5, 2011
I got so enthusiastic about this book that I sent several copies to people I know. Despite my gushing about the greatness of this book and what it did for me, not a one of my recipients read it. This was 3 years ago and still they have not. For this reason, I am trying to modify my exuberance.

Of all the books I've read on China, only this one gave me some insight into the people and their country. Kynge is probably the perfect guide for me because he lived in China and mastered Mandarin. He traveled extensively within the country and comments in depth about its geography, history and social issues. To me this was almost a travel book.

As a result of reading this book, I gained even more respect for the Chinese. They have a unique history and situation in the world. Their responses to various crises has helped define them, including flooding of the Yellow River and their incredible income disparity. I highly recommend this book.
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on July 17, 2010
I bought this book from Amazon months ago, meaning to read it but I had my mother and others read it first.

I read the bood recently, nearly two years after Wall Street had collapsed as we all knew it and China had become the largest creditor nation to the USA.

While some of the peripheral facts and events this book discussed seem dated, the book as a whole may never become dated and its sould is eternal.

It's amazing how the book captured the heart and souls of the Chinese people and of China. It's clear the book was thoroughly researched and the writing and editing is nothing short of excellent. Thank you to the author and his editors for the conciseness and brevity of the book. Very easy to read and get hooked. Well done.

It should be required reading for anyone who wants to visit China or to do business in China or with companies based in China. I only wish this book was available when I was in college; it's such an easy book to read and appreciate.
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on August 12, 2009
This book is a primer on China. It can be divided into three major topics: the rise of China on the economic front, the socio-environmental impact of that rise, and finally how the world will interact with China. For me the most interesting part was the second one. Since we are all more or less aware of the economic power that is China and the impact it has had on the manufacturing side in particular. However the author tries to display the soft and hard costs of this rapid growth on the different fronts. For example on the environmental front he discusses emissions, pollution etc which has far reaching implication not only to the future of the country itself but to the entire globe. On the social/political front, true liberalization is far from being achieved. One thing to keep in mind that this book was written in 2006 and there are a number of key developments that have occurred since then. That being said I think its a great read, recommended!
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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. Corruption exists at every level, the gray and black economies play a large role in everyday life, and these factors have resulted in the "collapse of social trust". In the final chapter, Kynge has a lot to say about the "waichi" (friendship) concept in China (hint: it's not what ours is).

In all, this book is outstanding from beginning to end, and absolutely worth buying. Anything we can do to understand the challenge tha China presents is recommended, and this book certainly contributes to the debate.
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on September 15, 2009
I read this book while traveling around China for 2 weeks. It was my third trip to China and I wanted to understand it better. The book was amazing and balanced. The stories range from single families to large corporations. My wife, who grew up in China was also impressed with the author's understanding of the culture and issues, a credit she has not awarded many writers.

The book does well at showing the motivations from the rest of the world that have allowed China to capitalize as well as the social, environmental and economic costs that China's progress has created. The whole book was even more impactful reading it while see the country first hand.

Even if you do not have that opportunity this is a good book to understand the Chinese version of 54.40 or bust. I thought so much of it that when I accidently left it on one of our plane I repurchased the book so I could finish the last couple of chapters.
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on February 14, 2007
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. Kynge's anecdote about missing manhole covers in surrounding countries illustrates the demand for steel. And no one should be surprised that the recent increase in global oil prices is a result of Chinese demand.

Kynge points out that as a developing country, not quite yet a superpower, and as a not fully capitalistic country, since the government still controls many of the levers of the economy; China has been able to evade superpower responsibility. In the case of Iran, China has been very reticent about halting nuclear development, only a reluctant supporter of sanctions for fear of disrupting their oil supply. Likewise, in the case of Sudan, China has looked the other way while ethnic cleansing is being conducted in Darfur. Worse yet, China is powerful enough as a manufacturer and lender to prevent anyone else from intervening as well, the US included.

China's growing size and influence will be one of the greatest challenges faced by the US and the rest of the world in the new century. In what Kynge calls the "compression of developmental time," Chinese workers are using the latest high-tech manufacturing technology and the most modern infrastructure, yet the average industial wage is only about $.50 an hour. Neither the West nor other countries can compete with this combination. How long this can be sustained is an open question. Kynge points out that they have an unbeatable advantage at the moment but that it cannot last.

China's rise has inspired fear at least since the time of Napoleon who originally uttered the phrase about China shaking the world. Kynge tells us that most of the Chinese he knows wish nothing more than to make a better life for themselves and do not see China as a superpower, let alone a threat to the world order. I agree, the Chinese are more aware of thei shortcomings and also more aware that superpower status is still elusive. Kynge is good at articulating the obstacles that the Chinese still face as they modernize their economy. In Napoleon's time China represented about one-third of the world's economy as opposed to 5% today. If they are going to achieve their former market share they still have a whole lot of shakin' to do.
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on February 27, 2007
China Shakes the World is a brief anecdotal survey of China's rise as a great economic power. I took three major themes from the book:

- Many of the Chinese government's current policies are forced upon it. China's people have come to expect sustained high growth rates, and a failure to meet this expectation would have severe consequences for China's rulers. To encourage high growth rates, and because they are not democratically accountable, China's leaders simply ignore the adverse consequences of rapid growth, such as environmental damage. Yet the long-term consequences are inescapable. In the realm of foreign policy, China's most urgent need is access to natural resources. This need forces China to engage with some unsavory regimes and use its influence in the United Nations to protect them from international pressure.

- Much of China's current economic strength is the result of starting from a low base: while China has been at least a regional power for millennia, it has not done a good job of providing for its people. As a result, its rural population in particular is willing to undergo almost any hardship to escape grinding poverty. China's rapid economic growth can also be explained, in part, as a reaction to the loosening of artificial restraints on growth: e.g., totalitarian controls that prohibited any type of private enterprise until 1978 and China's isolation from the rest of the world during much of its history.

- China is pursuing the development strategy pioneered by Japan and the Asian tigers of climbing the technology ladder from relatively undemanding manufactures that rely on cheap labor (e.g., textiles) to more capital-intensive manufactures, specifically targeting machine tool manufacturing as a strategic industry. Because of China's extremely inexpensive, disciplined, and well-educated work force, and because its manufacturers emphasize market share over profit, there is little that the West can do to compete with China in many manufacturing sectors.

On these points, I found author James Krynge, a Financial Times reporter, to be convincing and reasonably entertaining. I found him to be less so when he indulges in some Lou Dobbs-style populism in decrying the effect of China's manufacturing prowess on U.S. manufacturers.
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on April 4, 2018
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on October 16, 2007
I am Chinese, and of course I am attracted by the title. Finally, China get to shake the world a little too, what an accomplishment. Well, as I read the book, it is making me less and less proud of my motherland. The counterfeit product, the stealing of high-tech information, degradation of environment and the insitutionalized corruption are making my stomach turn. When 1/2 of the population is going at 80 miles an hour in the globalized world, the other half is being left behind by their own country. It makes me wonder, what will happen if the economy slow down in China? What will the people who had already tasted the fast world will do, and what will the ultra-dictatorship of the Ruling Communist party do, and what will the other half of the population that had been left behind do. This is a question worth pondering. Maybe, China is not as rosy as it projected to the rest of the world, and maybe people, or investors should listen to not just the official talking head, but what the people are doing. This is a good read, it will help with my school project too.
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