Monday, October 5, 2009


I received an e-mail from a friend responding to my 60th anniversary post. He wrote that my positive words were a bit different than the angle he saw on the news, which tended to portray the government here as an "aggressive, power-hungry regime." This got me thinking about where I get my perspective on China. There are two sides to every coin, and every government has accomplishments for which it can rightly be proud, and injustices for which it ought to be ashamed. It can be difficult to find sources that give both sides of the China coin. Here are a few I have enjoyed:

ZGBriefs. This is a weekly e-mail that summarizes news about China from a variety of published sources. It takes about 10 minutes to read -- enough to help you have a reasonably intelligent conversation on current events in ZhongGuo (that is, China). Subscribe at

China Road by Rob Gifford. China Road is a road-trip book, written as the author travels Route 312 from Shanghai to Kazakhstan meeting truckers, students, Amway salesmen, family-planning enforcers, AIDS victims, and many others along the way. The idea of thanking Chinese for their cheap goods comes from a line in the book: "...James Kynge illustrates this point by standing outside a Wal-Mart in Rockford, Illinois and asking the shoppers of Middle America whether they feel like thanking the Chinese for all the cheap goods they can buy, and for the low interest rates they pay on their mortgages" (p. 287). Now I've just made the book seem dry, but it's not! It's great! I've read it twice, and can't recommend it highly enough. Buy it at, or borrow from your local library.

And finally, head over to for a series of excellent pictures from this week's 60th anniversary festivities:

Stay tuned for a series of posts on my holiday visit to my student's home.

1 comment:

  1. The most interesting aspect of China IMHO is how the govt handles its policies on growth. Right now, in order to keep its consituents happy, they are creating jobs by investing in new infrastructure. The problem with easy lending practices (while they create jobs) is that record amounts of wasteful investment is occurring. Have you heard about whole cities that were built and are still vacant, all the empty skyscrapers in Shanghai, or how the world's biggest mall in Guangzhou has only 12 tenants? For an excellent, unbiased view on growth in China, try reading Michael Pettis' blog. He is a professor at a university in Beijing and is an expert on Chinese finance. Try it, but I did hear this blog was blocked in China --