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After Deng

John Gittings

6 July 1995
Deng​ Xiaoping: My Father 
by Deng Mao​ Mao.
Basic Books, 498 pp., £20, March 1995, 0 465 01625 1
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Deng​ Xiaoping and the Making of Modern China 
by Richard Evans.
Hamish Hamilton, 339 pp., £20, October 1993, 9780241130315
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China After Deng​ Xiaoping 
by Willy Wo-lap Lam.
Wiley, 516 pp., £24.95, March 1995, 0 471 13114 8
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Burying MaoChinese Politics in the Age of Deng​ Xiaoping 
by Richard Baum.
Princeton, 489 pp., £29.95, October 1994, 9780691036397
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Deng​ Xiaoping: Chronicle of an Empire 
by Ruan Ming.
Westview, 288 pp., £44.50, November 1994, 9780813319209
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... Mao Zedong used to point him out to foreign visitors. ‘That little man,’ said the Chairman, ‘will go a long way.’ Such praise was belittling in more than one sense and Mao made sure during the Cultural Revolution that Deng went nowhere. Yet Deng Xiaoping bounced back, once while Mao was still alive and then definitively after his death. The image of someone small but ...
23 August 2001
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress 
by Dai Sijie, translated by Ina Rilke.
Chatto, 208 pp., £10, June 2001, 0 7011 6982 6
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The Drink and Dream Teahouse 
by Justin Hill.
Weidenfeld, 344 pp., £12.99, March 2001, 0 297 64697 4
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... inspired a million people to subdue a tidal wave in 1969, a group of housewives to reinvent shoe polish, and surgeons to sew back severed fingers and remove a 99 pound tumour as big as a football’. Mao and his men rated the power of words higher than most, and this may explain why they went to such lengths to suppress non-aligned literature in China. From the early 1960s until the mid-1980s almost ...
18 July 1996
Hungry Ghosts: China’s Secret Famine 
by Jasper Becker.
Murray, 352 pp., £19.99, June 1996, 0 7195 5433 0
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... everywhere, from lowlands beneath Yellow River dykes to the high plateau of Tibet. Natural boundaries did not contain it because natural phenomena were not its cause. The famine occurred because a Mao Zedong brainstorm turned into a government policy; its limits were the administrative boundaries of the Chinese state. As Jasper Becker writes: ‘Mao’s famine ... was entirely man-made. China was ...
5 August 1993
... I arrived by bus at a dusty crossroads outside Shaoshan, the birthplace of Mao Zedong, in a fine mist which stippled the dark water of the paddy fields. An out-of-work student with a motorbike for hire drove me to the Shaoshan Guesthouse. It was damp and empty except for a ...

Business as Usual at the ‘People’s Daily’

Jasper Becker: The Chinese cultural revolution

29 July 1999
The Origins of the Cultural Revolution. Vol. III: The Coming of the Cataclysm 1961-66 
by Roderick MacFarquhar.
Oxford, 733 pp., £70, October 1977, 0 19 214997 0
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... and the last significant surviving Communist Party. After twenty years of the Open Door policy, we still know remarkably little about China’s secretive leadership. Compared to what it was under Mao, China is now a vastly different and more open society, yet it is still well nigh impossible to scrutinise the workings of the Party, and its fifty million-plus members. It remains an organisation, a ...

Getting Rich

Pankaj Mishra: In Shanghai

30 November 2006
... and diplomatic missions of China’s foreign overlords. The destitute are more invisible now, but it’s easy enough to make out the visitors from the impoverished countryside, in their faded blue Mao jackets and dusty shoes, gazing at the super-malls on Nanjing Lu and the throbbing neon lights of Pudong. The novelist Wang Anyi, sitting in the lobby of my hotel in one of the kitsch towers of ...


Perry Anderson

9 February 2012
Deng​ Xiaoping and the Transformation of China 
by Ezra Vogel.
Harvard, 876 pp., £29.95, September 2011, 978 0 674 05544 5
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On China 
by Henry Kissinger.
Allen Lane, 586 pp., £30, May 2011, 978 1 84614 346 5
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The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China 
by Jay Taylor.
Harvard, 736 pp., £14.95, April 2011, 978 0 674 06049 4
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... of the state, co-opted or career, they have as their underlying question: ‘China – what’s in it for us?’ Rather than Sinology proper, they are Sino-Americana. Ezra Vogel’s biography of Deng Xiaoping is an instructive example. Detached for duties on the National Intelligence Council under Clinton (he assures the reader that the CIA has vetted his book for improper disclosures), Vogel is ...
15 March 1984
The Heart of the Dragon 
by Alasdair Clayre.
Harvill, 281 pp., £12.95, January 1984, 0 00 272115 5
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The Origins of the Cultural Revolution. Vol. II: The Great Leap Forward 1958-1960 
by Roderick MacFarquhar.
Oxford, 470 pp., £22.50, June 1983, 0 19 214996 2
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Son of the Revolution 
by Liang Heng and Judith Shapiro.
Chatto, 301 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 7011 2751 1
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by William Hinton.
Secker, 789 pp., £15.95, November 1983, 0 436 19630 1
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The Messiah and the Mandarins 
by Dennis Bloodworth.
Weidenfeld, 331 pp., £9.95, October 1982, 0 297 78054 9
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The Cambridge History of China. Vol. XII: Republican China 1912-1949, Part I 
edited by John Fairbank.
Cambridge, 1002 pp., £50, October 1983, 0 521 23541 3
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The Middle Kingdom: Inside China Today 
by Erwin Wickert.
Harvill, 397 pp., £12.50, August 1983, 0 00 272113 9
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... An estimated thirty to thirty-five million Chinese died, and millions more suffered, in the great revolution associated with Mao Tse-tung’s leadership, but at the very least, he laid the foundations on which it became possible to build a modern industrial society. The great revolution has now entered its fifth phase: an era ...


Jon Cannon: In Chengdu, China

13 December 2001
... on a white background. A few brighter, hand-painted ones show glimmerings of entrepreneurship, now that the Government is encouraging market forces. Most older people are dressed in blue or grey Mao suits, and the young in faintly awkward approximations of 1970s Western styles. Bicycles pass constantly, bells ringing. There is little other traffic. Up trees and on roofs loudspeakers rehearse ...
6 July 1989
... seems to lurch from one extreme to another roughly every ten years. We have just had ten years of the most liberal and economically successful phase of Chinese Communist rule, under the reforms of Deng Xiaoping. It seems now that we are in for a new period of suppression of political and intellectual freedom. The courageous students who tried to confront and defeat China’s experienced political ...

Zhao’s Version

Andrew Nathan: Zhao Ziyang

17 December 2009
Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang 
by Zhao Ziyang, translated by Bao Pu, Renee Chiang and Adi Ignatius.
Simon and Schuster, 306 pp., £20, May 2009, 978 1 84737 697 8
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... a dialogue. He entrusted that process to the second-ranking leader, Premier Li Peng. Two days later, while Zhao was in Pyongyang, Li and officials close to him visited the retired senior leader Deng Xiaoping at his home and told him that the student movement had turned into a riot and Deng himself had been attacked by name. Outraged, Deng said this was clearly a ‘well-planned plot’ to ...

Jade and Plastic

Andrew Nathan: How bad was Mao?

17 November 2005
MaoThe Unknown Story 
by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday.
Cape, 814 pp., £25, June 2005, 0 224 07126 2
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... Mao Zedong’s long, wicked life has generated some lengthy biographies in English. Jung Chang and Jon Halliday’s is the longest, having overtaken Philip Short’s Mao (1999) and Li Zhisui’s The Private Life of Chairman Mao (1995). It represents an extraordinary research effort. The authors have been working on the project since at least 1986, to judge by the ...

Will there be war?

Howard W. French: China at War

27 July 2016
China and Global Nuclear Order: From Estrangement to Active Engagement 
by Nicola Horsburgh.
Oxford, 256 pp., £55, February 2015, 978 0 19 870611 3
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China’s Military Power: Assessing Current and Future Capabilities 
by Roger Cliff.
Cambridge, 378 pp., £21.99, September 2015, 978 1 107 50295 6
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China’s Coming War with Asia 
by Jonathan Holslag.
Polity, 176 pp., £14.99, March 2015, 978 0 7456 8825 1
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... On 1 October 1949​ , Mao Zedong stood on top of the Gate of Heavenly Peace to proclaim the victory of his revolution, and told the world that the long-suffering Chinese people had finally ‘stood up’. After decades of ...

Can you give my son a job?

Slavoj Žižek: China’s Open Secret

21 October 2010
The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers 
by Richard McGregor.
Allen Lane, 302 pp., £25, June 2010, 978 1 84614 173 7
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... Bukharin), Lenin remained unassailable, and Trotsky continued to be a non-person. Compare these events with the Chinese way of breaking with the Maoist past. As Richard McGregor shows in The Party, Deng Xiaoping’s ‘reforms’ proceeded in a radically different way. In the organisation of the economy (and, up to a point, the culture), what is usually perceived as ‘Communism’ was abandoned ...
24 May 2001
The Tiananmen Papers 
by Zhang Liang, edited by Andrew Nathan and Perry Link.
Little, Brown, 513 pp., £20, January 2001, 0 316 85693 2
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... student protests and strikes as well as elections, independent newspapers and universities and many other organisations not under state control. This civil society was unique in Chinese history and Mao Zedong and the intellectuals who joined the Communist Party resolutely crushed every trace of its existence. Mao effectively returned China to the absolute totalitarianism which accompanied the ...

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