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Will the Boat Sink the Water?: The Life of China's Peasants
 
 

Will the Boat Sink the Water?: The Life of China's Peasants [Kindle Edition]

Chen Guidi , Wu Chuntao
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

The Financial Times

"(this) brave expose pinpoints the lack of accountability perpetuating injustice and horror in rural areas."

Product Description

The Chinese economic miracle is happening despite, not because of, China's 900 million peasants. They are missing from the portraits of booming Shanghai, or Beijing. Many of China's underclass live under a feudalistic system unchanged since the fifteenth century. They are truly the voiceless in modern China. They are also, perhaps, the reason that China will not be able to make the great social and economic leap forward, because if it is to leap it must carry the 900 million with it. Chinese journalists Wu Chuntao and Chen Guidi returned to Wu's home province of Anhui, one of China's poorest, to undertake a three-year survey of what had happened to the peasants there, asking the question: Have the peasants been betrayed by the revolution undertaken in their name by Mao and his successors? The result is a brilliant narrative of life among the 900 million, and a vivid portrait of the petty dictators that run China's villages and counties and the consequences of their bullying despotism on the people they administer. Told principally through four dramatic narratives of paricular Anhui people, Will the Boat Sink the Water? gives voice to the unheard masses and looks beneath the gloss of the new China to find the truth of daily life for its vast population of rural poor.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 408 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1586484419
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs (24 April 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004PYDBU8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #625,690 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Startling examination of life in rural China 8 Feb 2007
By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This short book should be an excellent antidote to the hype about China's economic resurgence and strength. We recommend Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntao's frank, unvarnished account of peasant oppression and misery. Since peasants are the majority of the Chinese population, the system described here is China's true governance. The accounts of peasants suffering under local officials' tyranny are unsparing and quite moving, but the book is particularly valuable for its insights into how weak and ineffective Chinese laws and regulations really are. At the local level, laws clearly mean little against political connections and power. The danger is that this disparity could provoke another revolution in China.
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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Revolution is a Dinner Party" 3 April 2007
By K. M. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
John Pomfret writes in his introduction to this book that when he was in college in the late 1970s, professors taught that the Chinese Communist Party "truly represented the wishes of China's dispossessed" and one quoted Mao's saying that "A revolution is not a dinner party." Chinese reporters Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntao document the plight of the peasants in their country, showing Pomfret and anyone else who dares to read their expose how corruption, excessive taxation, miscarriages of justice, too many layers of bureaucracy, and unchecked industrial pollution oppress and threaten the very existence of China's poorest.

China is no worker's paradise. The rural population is basically an unprivileged underclass -- a class of serfs -- that the government squeezes mercilessly. Despite declarations from the top Chinese Communist rulers that peasants should not be pay more than 5% of their annual income in taxes, 19% is closer to the truth. For a subsistence population, such heavy taxation (often in the form of ill-defined, sometimes illegal, fees and fines) is more than they can bear. Yet, their appeals for relief to various levels of their government generally result only in the status quo retained.

A sizable portion of the book relates journalistic investigations into specific several cases of murder of peasants by village or township officials. The petty officials became enraged to the point of doing or ordering bodily violence against peasants because the fed-up farmers were taking public steps to expose their (the officials') corruption.

Then, the authors cite some of the recent policies of the Chinese central government that have increased the sufferings of the peasants. Examples include increasing the layers of local governance, commanding villages to invest in industrial enterprises that are not sustainable and that force them into mountains of debt, and permitting giant gobs of industrial pollutants to turn black rivers peasants must use for bathing and drinking water.

"Will the Boat Sink the Water? The Life of China's Peasants" does feature portraits of good, conscientious officials who put the welfare of their villages or regions ahead of their own advancement. But the Chinese Communist system does not ordinarily promote such people. The Party is more interested in keeping the peasants in their place, and it promotes those officials who inflate the agricultural yields and other economic "successes" of their locality and who deliver their assessed taxes in full.

This revealing look at China at the grassroots level should be read by everyone who has read glowing reports of the progressive, sweeping economic and social strides allegedly remaking the most populous nation on earth. There *is* a dinner party going on: the Chinese peasants are being feasted upon by their cadres, village heads, and Party watchdogs.

This English translation of the book now banned in China is very highly recommended.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Critical information for the serious China hand 3 Jan 2007
By Scott W. Galer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I agree with John Pomfret, who concludes that this is one of the most important books to come out of China in a long time. I am a China specialist who regularly spends time in both urban and impoverished rural areas of China. This book provides excellent anecdotal examples of some of the sacrifices that China is making to modernize. These sacrifices are manifesting themselves in many ways: displaced workers, lost arable land and displaced farmers, corruption, increasing urban-rural income gap, etc. The book was originally published in China under the title _Zhongguo nongmin diaocha_ (An Investigation of Chinese Peasants). The book has since been banned in China. This translation will seem somewhat "foreign" to the non-Chinese speaker, but it is accurate and reflects the original language.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars China's peasants are still suffering. 9 April 2007
By Kevin M Quigg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Forget the title, this is an interesting expose on the Chinese peasant. These 900 million people toil in the backwaters of rural China, and were instrumental in getting their country industrialized. They also helped the country sustain itself following the Great Leap Forward (or backward in reality) and the Cultural Revolution. These people spend countless hours in backbreaking labor only to have party cadres unfairly tax them beyond their means. This book by a husband and wife team examines stories about their home province and show the corruption of village and party administration. China may be a coming superpower, but it better solve these problems before the people throw the rascals out.

I found this a very informative read. It starts out slow, but this is an intensely interesting book about the unfair lives led by millions of Chinese peasants and the people that are supposed to protect them-the party and village government hacks.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking, terrifying, but IMPORTANT 30 Oct 2006
By EthicalllyInspired - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is Heartbreaking, terrifying, but important for anyone dealing with China to read.

It spells out very clearly the political and social dynamics at the village and township level through story after story. Only, the even more depressing aspect is that there are many more stories than just those in the book.

The writer helps us understand some of the callous bribery and corruption that is undertaken by corrupt local officials against those Chinsee citizens who can bear it the least, poor peasants. It also shows the courageous efforts undertaken by some peasants to achieve basic justice, and be able to get on with their lives.

To anyone working in business in China this book is essential, to understand both the dangers to you in getting in to deals, and to those with a conscience, the potential impacts on others of partnering with less than ethical officials.

For anyone working in development issues in China this book is essential.

For anyone working in CSR and ethical sourcing in China, this book is essential to help you understand where workers come from and why, and what might help them when they go back home (education-the power of being able to read and write).

The only heartening aspect of this book is that it sold so well, and with movements like the new Harmonious Society campaign, maybe it was listened to by some at the top.

To those outside China, all the more reason to press and support China in continuing to improve the rule of law, and free access to education at the rural level.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Startling examination of life in rural China 8 Feb 2007
By Rolf Dobelli - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This short book should be an excellent antidote to the hype about China's economic resurgence and strength. We recommend Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntao's frank, unvarnished account of peasant oppression and misery. Since peasants are the majority of the Chinese population, the system described here is China's true governance. The accounts of peasants suffering under local officials' tyranny are unsparing and quite moving, but the book is particularly valuable for its insights into how weak and ineffective Chinese laws and regulations really are. At the local level, laws clearly mean little against political connections and power. The danger is that this disparity could provoke another revolution in China.
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