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The Writing On The Wall: China And The West In The 21St Century Hardcover – 15 Jan 2007

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown; 1st edition (15 Jan. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316730181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316730181
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.2 x 4.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 963,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Hutton's most provocatively enjoyable work to date (Martin Vander Weyer, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

A typically contrarian verdict on the tiger economy of the middle kingdom (Robert McCrum, OBSERVER Books to Watch in 2007)

Pertinent and provocative (HERALD)

A very informative, wide-ranging and readable study of the threat that China poses to itself and to the rest of the world (IRISH TIMES)

Book Description

* An incisive and thoroughly accessible account of China's emergence as an economic power and its developing relationship with the West

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Rick the Recidivist on 8 Jan. 2008
Format: Hardcover
I wanted to read this book to understand more about the phenomenal rise of China and the effect this might have on the West, the UK and my family. I teach Chinese students, use Chinese products (who doesn't?) and eat Chinese food but I'm encouraged by our media to fear and mistrust China. This book goes part of the way to helping me understand what's going on but it was a hard slog to get to the end because it is so rambling. Having nearly given up half-way through, I'm glad I did not because when Hutton finally gets into his stride he is very good. However, the chapters I enjoyed were not really about China, dealing as they do with the US budget deficit, the polarisation of US politics, the global environmental crisis, the importance of our Enlightenment heritage and the still disastrous effect of the UK class system. All good stuff, but not directly relevant to China. The early chapters on China should be much more clearly written and more focused and I would have welcomed some case studies to illustrate some of the points being made. Chinese history and the Chinese socio-political environment seem to be so far removed from my experience as a westerner that the rather dry history lesson presented by Will Hutton is not helpful. As a non-economist I still feel bamboozled by some of the arguments in the book about the interlocking effects of the values of the renminbi vs. the dollar and euro, the levels of western debt and investment in China etc. A few diagrams might have helped here. I hope Hutton is correct when he argues that we need not fear China and that the West needs to find ways to engage constructively to our mutual benefit. Let's hope our politicians are able to show some leadership in this respect.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By An expat based in Shanghai on 24 Jan. 2007
Format: Hardcover
"China cannot thoroughly be understood from either a Western or a Chinese viewpoint. To grasp its nature requires an orbital, historical view of both the West and China," says Wei Wang, author of the best-selling business title The China Executive.

Indeed, because of the same approach Will Hutton has adopted, The Writing on the Wall is one of the first truly enlightening books on China.

Particularly admiring is the author's "ambition...[to] help tilt the balance towards international collaboration, contribute to a reappraisal of the so-called China threat and a recognition of the situation as an opportunity..." He also rightly warns: "[China] requires our understanding and engagement - not our enmity and suspicion, which could culminate in self-defeatingly creating the very crisis we fear."

Because of China's increasing impact on the world, anybody who cares about global peace and prosperity should read this book. And unlike many other books on China that are meant to terrify you, this book will enlighten you!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. G. Carroll VINE VOICE on 22 Jan. 2009
Format: Paperback
The Writing On The Wall China And The West In The 21st Century by Will Hutton writes in a narrative style that would be familar to readers of The State We're In. Hutton covers how the teachings of Confucius led to a 'modern society' in China when my ancestors were building Brú na Bóinne.

How the western colonial powers (notably the UK, France, Germany and the US) managed to embarrass and humble the celestial kingdom. the hard choices which the communist party had to make and the hard road that the country has walked to gain its present status and the challenges that the party faces in maintaining an even keel.

Whilst Hutton is critical of some Chinese measures, he points out were the west has made similar mistakes and the lessons learned from them.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ian Millard on 21 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
The ancient sage and general, Sun Tzu, wrote, in his still-reprinted work The Art Of War that to win without war is the best strategy. China is striving to do just that. Authors long before Will Hutton made the point (see the works of Richard Deacon, particularly The History of the Chinese Secret Service), but in a way limited to less general spheres of activity.

Hutton makes the point that we in the "West" tend to forget that as recently as 30 years ago, in 1980, China had effectively no private sector in its economy, save for a relatively low number of small craftsmen etc. Indeed, ten years or so before that, China was in the grip of political psychosis, in which millions were killed by Maoist mobs, the death of the first victim, a 50-y-o school heqdmistress being detailed in this book (covered in boiling water and then clubbed to death by school student agitators using nail-studded planks). I found that detail useful, if only because we in Europe still also tend to think of events like the Cultural Revolution as sweeps of History with a capital "H", not really thinking of the victims as individuals with feelings, families, real living human lives. That is particularly true when many think of China, with its huge population.

I found Hutton's exposition of Chinese history before the 20th Century interesting. Most of it was new to me. Some aspects of modern Chinese history also surprized, not least the fact that Mao did not, in fact, walk the Long March, but was carried on a bamboo litter akin to a sedan chair (the way nobles of ancient China were carried, indeed); also, the fact that Mao had 50 private estates after the establishment of Communist Party power in 1949.
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