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Chinese Whispers: Why Everything You've Heard About China is Wrong [Kindle Edition]

Ben Chu
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

'Chu's smart, iconoclastic portrait dismantles seven misconceptions' [NEW STATESMEN] about modern China and offers a corrective to Western assumptions.


so why are the younger generation derided as spoiled and lazy?


so why is the country's internet exploding with anti-regime dissent?


so why do the country's political leaders feel so insecure?

Perhaps it is time to stop engaging in a centuries-old game of Chinese whispers in which the facts have become more and more distorted in the telling.

Ben Chu examines the myths that have come to dominate our view of the world's most populous nation, forcing us to question everything we thought we knew about it. The result is a penetrating, surprising and provocative insight into China today.

Product Description


Chu's smart, iconoclastic portrait dismantles seven misconceptions - or "whispers" - to let in light on a heterogeneous nation about which it is impossible to generalise. (Philip Maughan NEW STATESMAN)

Book Description

An iconoclastic portrait of modern China and a counterblast to Western assumptions.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1178 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson (10 Oct. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #84,354 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Two recent books give a good idea of how we think about China today:

“ When China rules the world, the End of the Western World and the Birth of a new global order ”, Martin Jacques.
“ China’s Silent Army, The Pioneers, Traders, Fixers and Workers who are remaking the world in Beijing’s image “, Juan Pablo Cardenal & Heriberto Araujo.

Both are Non Fiction & seem well documented.
(I particularly loved the second title, where 2 Spanish journalists travelled the – developing – world to show China’s dirty hands & faces.)

Now, do you also have that feeling, like, China’s going to Dominate the world because they have more than a lot of money & the Giant is going to Rule with very little moral or ethical principles.

Time to read Ben Chu’s ‘Chinese Whispers’.
It’s so human to think in cliché’s, stereotypes & building myths from only 1 or just a few sides of the story.
While reading his book I got the feeling, Ben Chu became tired of all those prejudices ‘whispering’ around & started collecting – facts.

His way of doing this is original.
He uses the following chapters, starting from well-known clichés & stereo types:

China has an Ancient & Fixed Culture
Chinese are Racist
Chinese don’t want freedom
China has the World’s best education system
Chinese Live to Work
Chinese have re-invented Capitalism
China will rule the world

He starts every chapter with confirming the cliché. And when you read that, it all sounds very plausible, logic & real.
But next, the biggest part of every chapter is build up with facts and figures that confront you with a different world.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Things People Believe 30 Oct. 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have an author-friend who's putting together a book about Chinese myths. I've proofread a few chapters and once recommended calling the effort Everything You Know about China is Wrong, so when I found an article from the London-based Independent about a book by Ben Chu called Chinese Whispers: Why Everything You've Heard about China is Wrong, I had to buy it.

Mostly, I was glad I did. Chinese Whispers is pretty good, at least I think so, because I make many of the same or similar arguments in my own book. Ben read widely and I benefited from his research, especially about recent events. In seven chapters, he takes on seven large myths (e.g. China has an ancient and fixed culture; the Chinese are irredeemably racist; the Chinese don't want freedom, etc.) and many attendant myths. My favourite chapter was `China has the world's finest education system,' (I have a background in education and was part of a Chinese education system for 10 years). I also enjoyed `The Chinese have reinvented capitalism,' partly because I'm not versed in economics and am always interested in learning about how government policy affects the economy and people's livelihoods. Plus, I'm familiar with Chinese venality and mismanagement, so the charge that China's economic model is broken resonated.

Each chapter follows a format: the myth (or whisper) is laid out as per common belief whereupon it's dismantled, sometimes to great effect, sometimes not. However, before I start with the inevitable criticisms, I'd like to add that I particularly liked Ben's style of leaving no "expert" untouched. Ben illustrates that a host of China commentators (e.g. Mark Twain, W.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ben Chu is a pretty interesting author to write on China - the product of a mixed Chinese British marriage, with lots of relatives in China and with a sufficiently broad perspective to be able to discuss both the perceptions of the country in the 'West' as well as the situation on the ground.

The book is organized around whispers - for lack of a better term stereotypes - that are held about China and the Chinese. These range from the obsession with learning, to the unflinching acceptance of backbreaking work, to the complete ambivalence towards democracy.

The author then examines each one in turn, usually starting with the historical development of the particular world-view (often being based on little more than guesswork of people never having set foot in the country). The next step is a critical examination and debunking of the 'whisper', with a more balanced view being placed in its stead.

This makes the book relatively refreshing to read and while some sources get used in many whispers, the debunking generally always contains well argued logic and to the point examples casting more than mere doubt on the widely held stereotypes.

If you are interested in more than just the odd sound bite about the country (that can be regurgitated at will to people equally modestly informed) this is the book to go for. It provides a more solid understanding and delivers in spades. It reads well with How Asia Works: Success and Failure in the World's Most Dynamic Region and will help provide you with the insight necessary to engage with China and the Chinese more fruitfully.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars 'Fortune cookie' China: I wouldn't bother...
This is what you might call tongue- in- cheek fortune- cookie 'disinformation'. He wants to deflect the English speaking and Western audience from a real understading of China. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Philip
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
I learned a lot from this book. For some reason I still found it heavy going.

If I have a criticism of the book it would be that the author rather ignores the spiritual... Read more
Published 1 month ago by John Hardy
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
interesting read
Published 3 months ago by Julie Dundas
5.0 out of 5 stars A history of China from a womans veiw
This book is the finest that is available for the period details of China
Published 3 months ago by D. M. Greenfields
5.0 out of 5 stars I learned a great deal and the book opened my eyes to a ...
I learned a great deal and the book opened my eyes to a better understanding of modern chinas society, how the state is functioning etc.
A very good read. Thank you.
Published 5 months ago by GrahamW
5.0 out of 5 stars Chinese real face!
It's one of best books what I have ever purchased.If you want to know better china and general history of country and people than you must purchase it. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Reinis
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Give it a 6 out of 10.
Published 8 months ago by charlie
4.0 out of 5 stars An Informed Alternative View of China
I was actually in China on business when I read this book, so it had extra relevance for me. The format is nice and easy to understand, the author introduces a "myth" in... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Steve Farr
5.0 out of 5 stars From the horse's mouth
Ben Chu knows about China, he knows about the western world and he writes accessibly and well. Where many in the west resent, fear or ignore modern China, Mr Chu approaches China's... Read more
Published 15 months ago by F. A. Rodner
4.0 out of 5 stars A breath of "Fresh Air"
This book is written by a relatively young writer whoprovides an alternative view to the modern China and challenges the stereotypes we have of the people and country. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Ian R. West
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