China’s Future


China’s Future
By David Shambaugh
Polity – £14.99

Has China remained in the same position as that astutely described by the scholar Minxin Pei, who in 2006, pronounced it as being ”in a continued state of trapped transition.” That is the question. That said, I’m sure there’s many a Port Talbot steel worker who’d go out of his way to vehemently deny that such was ever really the case – but then it does take all sorts.

As Britain continues to quibble over the pending EU Referendum, the so-called Asian Tiger continues to makes stride after stride after stride – with all the economic zeal of an out-paced gazelle. Agh, but ”this country’s being over-run by bleedin’ foreigners innit…/dahn my neck of the woods there ain’t a fackin whyte person in sight…/It’s all them skraahnging Pakis’n’Poles kahming over ‘ere nicking ouwer jobs innit…”

That’s right Brexits, your every woe is as a direct result of all them bleeding foreigners invading this all too tiny island. And while we’re at it, they’re also responsible for da weather and obesity.

Lest it be said that while the xenophobic, flag-waving moronics continue to be side-tracked by the very influential powers that be, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage being two fine, albeit shameful examples, Asian nations, of which China is surely at the fore, continue to overtake us in every (economic) which way imaginable.

David Shambaugh (whose previous books include: China Goes Global, China’s Communist Party, Modernizing China’s Military), is a scholar of Chinese- Asian affairs, who throughout China’s Future, writes with an acute mode of certified confidence within an area of expertise, clearly gained from his many years of having studied and written widely on the country.

As such, it really would be foolish to interject, let alone question what he’s saying and writing.

Foolish that is, unless one is an expert on Chinese affairs – which I’m absolutely not, which explains why it’s really hard to waver upon, let alone miscalculate this ginormous nation. A nation whose future is arguably the most consequential question in current day, global affairs: ”There is no shortage of speculation about China’s future. A tsunami of scholarly studies on various aspects of China’s ”rise” have been published over the past two decades, while fund managers, corporations, political risk analysts, government intelligence agencies, and futurologists all spend countless hours (and large sums of money) trying to anticipate China’s trajectory. Predictably this punditry ranges across a full spectrum of possibilities, from China becoming the superpower of the twenty-first century to its stagnation or even collapse” (‘Peering into China’s Future’).

Having enjoyed unprecedented levels of growth, it might be argued that the country is now at a critical juncture in the oft fraught development of its economy, society, polity and national security; not to mention countless human rights abuses and international relations.

To be sure, the direction the nation takes at this turning point will undoubtedly determine whether it stalls or continues to develop and prosper, all of which is coherently addressed amid this book’s five chapters. As Francis Fukuyama of Stanford University has written on the back cover: ”David Shambaugh lays out some bold speculations about possible futures for China that will make even seasoned China hands rethink their assumptions. It is critical reading from one of our most astute observers of that country.”

That’s right, from urbanization to pensions, healthcare to the provision of public goods, the continuation of the status quo to Rentrenchment and possible/unthinkable return to Hard Authoritarianism, China’s Future is a very fair and balanced analysis of what its title suggests.

In other words, completely polar to that of the yelping Brexits of acute myopic audacity.

David Marx


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