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The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers Hardcover – 3 Jun 2010
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Superb in its depiction and demystification of the most important force at work in China today. Essential, riveting guide to how the rising power really works (Jonathan Fenby, author of The Penguin History of Modern China)
McGregor is one of the best foreign journalists who have reported from China. The Party draws on two decades of superb reporting ... A fine contribution for those who want to know about the rising power they will face in the decades ahead (Ezra Vogel, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University)
This is a marvellous and finely written study of how China is really run, and how its strange but successful system of Leninist capitalism really works. It should be read by anyone doing business with or just trying to understand China (Bill Emmott, former editor of The Economist)
Few outsiders have any realistic sense of the innards, motives, rivalries, and fears of the Chinese Communist leadership. But we all know much more than before, thanks to Richard McGregor's illuminating and richly-textured look at the people in charge of China's political machinery ... invaluable for anyone trying to make sense of China's future plans and choices (James Fallows, National Correspondent for The Atlantic)
Fascinating and ambitious ... Richard McGregor lays bare the secretive machinery of the party (Gady Epstein Forbes)
Indispensable. If you read only one book about China this year, it should be this one. And if you do not read this book, you probably do not understand China today (Arthur Kroeber China Economic Quarterly)
A book that is as informative as it is entertaining, and rich in the sort of anecdotes that put flesh on the bones of his arguments ... China has been transformed. There is no denying it. The system that takes the credit is brilliantly described by McGregor (Chris Patten Financial Times)
McGregor has done the world a service with his fascinating new book (Peter Hartcher Sydney Morning Herald)
A fascinating read ... in an age when Chinese economic influence is reaching new levels, it is an invaluable exercise in understanding the operation of the most powerful political party in the world (Ian Kehoe Sunday Business Post)
A vivid narrative, sprinkled with humour and insightful analysis ... McGregor balances exposition of a heavy and intellectually demanding subject with anecdotes, lively quotes and word portraits of amazing characters, such as maverick "Mr Idiot Seeds", Nian Guangjiu, or arrogant, reckless former Shanghai party boss Chen Liangyu ... An engrossing read (South China Morning Post)
From the Inside Flap
China's Communist Party is the elephant in the room. The Party is a revelatory investigation into its integral role in the country's rise as a global superpower.
The political and economic growth of China in the past three decades is one of astonishing, epochal dimensions. The country has undergone a remarkable transformation on a scale similar to the industrial revolution in the West. The most remarkable part of this transformation, however, has been largely left untold-the central role of the Chinese Communist Party.
As an organization alone, the Party is a phenomenon of unique scale and power. With more than seventy-three million members, it does more than just rule a country. The Party not only has a grip on every aspect of government, from the largest, richest cities to the smallest far-flung villages in Tibet and Xinjiang, it also has a hold on all official religions, the media, and the military. The Party presides over large, wealthy state-owned businesses, and it exercises control over the selection of senior executives of all government companies, many of which are in the top tier of the Fortune 500 list.
In The Party, Richard McGregor delves deeply into China's inner sanctum for the first time, showing how the Communist Party controls the country, and how it keeps all corruption accusations against its members in-house. As the world's new geo-political force, the Party's decisions have a global impact, yet it remains a deeply secretive body, hostile to the law, unaccountable to anybody or anything other than its own internal tribunals, and primed to think the worst of the West.
How did China's Communists merge Marx, Mao and the market to create a new superpower? How have they managed to maintain power in the face of a rapidly changing world. In this provocative and illuminating account, Richard McGregor offers a captivating portrait of China's Communist Party, its grip on power and control over China, and its future.See all Product description
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China's communist party has pulled off something extraordinary: it has combined an open economy with a closed political system. The Party has proved itself to be an extraordinarily adaptable political machine, able to ride the tiger of social and economic transformations it has unleashed, while retaining a firm monopoly on political power. This was not the expected outcome 20 years ago.
How has it managed to do this? The party no longer has totalitarian aspirations: it does not regulate the micro-details of its citizens' lives and encourages them to get rich - within limits. These limits are set by the Party's determination to make sure the ordinary citizen has no influence on political power, directly or indirectly.
The Party does not allow any division of political power. Chinese citizens are free to get rich but not to partake in the ultimate decisions in the exercise of state power. There is no separation of powers. Not only can you not vote for an alternative Party but all means of information through the media, or redress through the courts, are controlled by the Party.
McGregor claims that Lenin would recognise the political organisation the party has perfected. I doubt this - Lenin would be astonished to find that the fastest growing sources of members of today's communist party are star students and entrepreneurs, 255 and 113 per cent respectively between 2002 and 2007, as McGregor himself notes.
The party, McGregor writes, `as a political machine has so far proved to be a sinuous, cynical and adaptive beast.' Inequality is worse than the US and far worse than Europe. Disorder is endemic in the countryside and the bureaucracy is riddled with corruption. Justice is a lottery - if a corrupt party official turfs evicts you from your home or expropriates your business, your only hope of redress is hoping that the official concerned has offended a bigger Party fish elsewhere and to appeal to him for help. There are no external checks and balances, only those the party seeks to observe, as it sees fit.
In the meantime, entrepreneurs, the professions, the military and even local party fiefdoms push for greater autonomy against the centre's demands for `harmony.' But thus far the Party has managed to meet these challenges with commensurate skill and adaptability, adroitly switching between carrot and stick, as the situation demands.
The Party has confounded all predictions based on precedents from experience elsewhere in Asia that economic development leads to greater political liberalisation.
But in the last analysis the basis remarkable political success has been the Party's ability to oversee spectacular economic growth. Unlike any other communist party in history (with the exception of Vietnam), the Party really does deliver jam today. Money talks, BS walks.
McGregor concludes that, `for the foreseeable future, it looks as though [the Party's] wish, to bestride the world as a colossus, on their own implacable terms, will come true.'
His own preceding analysis does not necessarily support the conclusion he makes. There are three reasons I think that this may be something of an overstatement:
First, it is too early to tell - the transition from a closed to a relatively open society has only just begun. Two in three Chinese still live in the countryside - they are heading to the cities in droves, expecting that their standards of living will continue to rise. Bigger and accelerated transformations still lie ahead. The Party is not out of the woods yet. There is no doubt that China today is a freer society that the China we knew thirty or even ten years ago. It is not a free or liberal society but there is no reason to believe that the trend to greater openness will necessarily cease.
Second, the Party will have to live with the rest of the world, not dominate it. Take a recent example: China's territorial dispute with Vietnam over the Spratley Islands. There is nothing to stop the Chinese navy from simply seizing them. But China swiftly eschewed use of force. The Party does not lead a nation of fanatics out to conquer the world. It leads citizens who tolerate the Party's monopoly on power in return for a better life. Increasing international tension works against the Party's purposes, not for it. Any war with any of its neighbours - let alone the United States - would undermine economic progress, to the detriment of the Party.
Third, China does not seek to overthrow or supplant the existing world order. It seeks to buttress institutions like the IMF, WTO etc, not overthrow them. Although the US relies on China to prop up its debt, China likewise depends on US consumers to buy its excess produce. The Party depends on the rest of the world, like it or not.
So therefore all bets are off - one way or another, one suspects that China's unique experiment will continue to confound all predictions, including perhaps the Party's own.
Author sounded biased to me while mentioning CPC's effort to alternate history and conceal data; since this approach is also a well established tradition in developed western countries.
I also felt the part about chinese history is redundant - much of this section was saved for promoting Jan Jishneng's Tombstone. There are much more comprehensive books on the market for those wish to learn Chinese history.
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