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The New Silk Road: How a Rising Arab World is Turning Away from the West and Rediscovering China 2009th Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0230580268
ISBN-10: 0230580262
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Editorial Reviews

Review

'Simpfendorfer is not just a good economist but an artful story teller who entertains as he educates. He has written a highly readable treatment of a topic of great strategic significance - the rebalancing of global wealth and power through the emerging relationship between the Islamic world and China. 'The New Silk Road' is a glimpse of the future that is easy to get into and hard to put down.' - Chas W. Freeman, Jr., former US chargé at Beijing and Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

'Despite the global economic crisis, the trajectory of the Arab and Chinese economies still match the soaring skylines of Dubai and Shanghai. Furthermore, as Ben Simpfendorfer bracingly illustrates, these are not isolated events but rather the resurrection of a Silk Road symbiosis. For all the region's troubles, this book places the Persian Gulf back where it geographically belongs: at the center of Eurasia and bending towards the overwhelming gravity of China.' - Parag Khanna, author of 'The Second World' and Senior Research Fellow at the New America Foundation

'The macroeconomics of China's rise and the nitty-gritty of Chinese businesses bargaining on the ground in the Arab world are like Parisian courtesans and Eskimos: world's apart, and nearly impossible to reconcile into a single narrative. But Ben Simpfendorfer's New Silk Road provides a Rosetta Stone to achieve just such a reconciliation. With an economists' toolbox for mapping aggregate growth, and a diarists' talent for capturing the minute, human interactions that join executives and officials from these two ancient worlds, he makes the logic, limits and significance of Sino-Arab engagement understandable.' Daniel Rosen, Principle, Rhodium Group, LLC

'As the chief China economist for Royal Bank of Scotland in Hong Kong and a former resident of both Beirut and Damascus, Mr Simpfendorfer is well placed to tackle the subject. But although he is a professional economist, what sets Mr Simpfendorfer's book aside from the usual run of publications about the mainland's rise is not his command of macroeconomic statistics, but his grasp of how the expanding relationship between China and the Arab world works at the personal level.' - Tom Holland, South China Morning Post

About the Author

BEN SIMPFENDORFER is currently the Asia and Middle East Strategist at the Royal Bank of Scotland in Hong Kong and was previously the Senior China economist at JPMorgan in Hong Kong. Simpfendorfer has lived in Beijing, Beirut, Damascus and Hong Kong and spends most of his time working as an analyst interpreting events for the foreign business and investment community. He has spent fifteen years reading local newspapers, speaking with the everyday person on the streets of Beirut to Beijing, and assessing economic data from the two regions. He has immersed himself in the two cultures and has personally observed many of the watershed events unfold in the Arab world ad China during that time.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 2009 edition (June 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230580262
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230580268
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,441,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By shireen on May 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
My husband passed me this book after he read it in one sitting, and told me, "you must read this".

Since we're from Southeast Asia and based in the Middle East, it made sense, as the theme is about the Arab world's rediscovery of China. But I also came with low expectations because I expected another big picture book about China buying oil from the Gulf, the post 9/11 situation pushing the Arabs to Asia, or rising Sovereign Wealth Funds from the two regions managing the West's suspicions. I was pleasantly surprised to find that "The New Silk Road" took a radically different approach. There are some real-life stories here written by someone who gives us the 'worm's eye view' but can also give us the 'eagle-eye' assessment. The author, a westerner who speaks Mandarin and Arabic, is like a gum-shoe detective who explores linkages that Tom Friedman seems to have overlooked. He starts by focussing on the dots and then connecting them between China and the Arab world. These dots are the small and medium size traders in Yiwu in China's Eastern seaboard joined to the other smaller traders in old souks in Damascus, Syria like Souk Al Hamideyyeh. He has some wonderful anecdotes of how intrepid women traders from China even brave the forbidding Saudi market, which would put off many Western women. Being a woman, I found these stories heart-warming and encouraging, but was also fascinated by the history of it. These traders are re-establishing the old Silk Road that existed hundreds of years ago. Instead of the Land route they are flying, but the linkages are being re-made.

After this general introduction, he goes on to talk about Chinese petro-dollars and SWFs, which are pretty much well-covered. But its done with some real local insight.
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Format: Hardcover
Trade caravans packed with spices and silk crossed Eurasia a thousand years ago along routes known as the Silk road. Today, pipelines, ports, and railroads are replacing those routes, with China providing the funding where needed. (Camels are reserved mostly for tourists now.) Sino-Arab commerce has evolved into the world's fastest-growing commercial relationship. Originally, the Arabs provided the capital and China the opportunities for investment and diversification away from the U.S.; now deals are moving in both directions. The items traded are changing as well - less blue porcelain, popular among European buyers, and more red porcelain, popular among Arab buyers.

Commonalities include both China and the Gulf States having amassed a vast share of global currency reserves, experienced colonial occupation, and had their prior golden years around the 1500s. Religion is a major difference, with Chinese overwhelmingly atheist compared to deeply religious Arabs. (The U.S. and China have a common interest in keeping oil prices low, and may end up helping Mid-East peace. Another U.S.-China commonality - both are condemned by al-Qaeda.)

Author Simpfendorfer, from Australia, is now posted at the Bank of Scotland as its Chief China Economist based in Hong Kong. He says he first became aware of these new links when visiting Yiwu, south of Shanghai, with its own mosque and imam paid for by the Chinese state. Outside the small city were 18,000 stalls serving Muslim traders; Simpfendorfer adds that it takes a day for an Egyptian to obtain a Chinese visa, vs. 18 days for an American visa post 9/11. An estimated 200,000 Arab nationals visit Yiwu each year. China is now the world's biggest exporter to the Middle East

Saudi Arabia sees China, not the U.S.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When in Far East several years ago, I observed the eastward posture, which fascinated me as an American citizen whose always been exposed to USA superiority. As a person with passion for Silk Road(s), this was a welcome read.
The documented details presented here well incorporated.
The downside is 2008 publication when Syria was a different player.
Enjoyed personal experiences included, as well as descriptions.
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The author who is fluent in both Arabic and Chinese, offers a unique perspective of the intersection of both cultures - How the mom and pop vendors in the Middle East are able to purchase items in China due to the translators who belong to an "acceptable" Muslim Chinese minority. His comments on the facility of Chinese leaders to be interviewed by Al Jezera in Arabic while those in the West cannot, are important warnings of the future. A must read for those interested in the growth of China and its wider influence in the Middle East.
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