New: Book Report: China: Fragile Superpower

This book is about China.

This book makes me want to hide my eyes and say "I hope you're wrong." It paints a discouraging picture.

The Chinese government fears overthrow by popular uprising. The government quashes dissent. The government's propaganda arm, an especially conservative group, demonizes Japan, America, and Taiwan. That's pretty much all of what the citizens hear about the world outside of China: just about three countries, and they're all awful. Students who want to become political--they know that if they protest their own government, they'll be stopped. So they protest America, Japan, or Taiwan.

The government tends to overreact in crises, painting itself into corners. When the world spotlight is on China, the China government rattles sabers--because it needs to appear strong to the people, too strong to overthrow. Saber-rattling has been pretty harmless so far, because China hasn't had the military strength to plausibly do much. But China's becoming more powerful. Japan is re-arming.

USA senators have an interesting way of encouraging China to be more humane: when China does something inhumane, punish China; when China does something humane, punish China. This makes it hard to nudge China towards being more humane.

We're all doomed. I want a cookie.

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Posted 2008-06-01