Jasper Becker

Jasper Becker, author of Hungry Ghosts and The Chinese, is the Beijing bureau chief of the South China Morning Post.

I could hardly bring myself to read this book. When I finished it, I was more puzzled than ever about what I had witnessed before and at the time of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. I was then reporting for the Guardian and had been living in China for four years, watching the slow build-up of anger and hope among the intelligentsia.

In Shanghai one night in late 1986, I saw the whole...

What do we know of recent Chinese history and how do we know it? This third, massive volume of Roderick MacFarquhar’s Origins of the Cultural Revolution, the first volume of which appeared in 1974, completes what is perhaps the most ambitious effort yet undertaken to unravel why and how this great and confusing event came about. Yet even after reading the 730 pages of the final volume, I was left wondering whether the thoughts and acts of the Chinese Communist Party’s leaders have become any more knowable.

The exiled Trotsky began his biography of Stalin with the observation that the old revolutionist Leonid Krassin ‘was the first, if I am not mistaken, to call Stalin an...

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In the two thousand years of Chinese history before the 20th century, there were more than eighteen hundred famines. The locations of these famines and their causes – drought, flood, war,...

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