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on 23 August 2011
You thought it was impossible to know what is going on in the Chinese corridors of power? Think again.

This book breaks new ground with detailed and in-depth research of Chinese-language sources. Unlike many China books, there's no recycling here as David Shambaugh delves into the inner workings of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). So this is a book not for the casual reader, but for those who are deeply interested in finding out what drives China from the inside.

Conclusions? The Chinese leadership is trying to learn from its own and others' (e.g. the Soviets') mistakes, and create solid long-term policy to enable the CCP to hold onto power and to maintain the stability of the Chinese state. This means that the Party is paradoxically in a process of "atrophy and adaptation" allowing it to become "a new kind of political hybrid" - an "eclectic state" that cherry picks policies out of the failings and successes of other states.

Highly recommended for both amateur and professional sinologists.
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on 31 March 2011
Prof. Shambaugh dispels the myth that China has reformed its economy without reforming its politics. In fact, China has had plenty of political reform -- just not of a sort westerners like.

The Chinese Communist Party is not a sitting duck waiting for a peasants' revolt to topple it. Far from convincing the Party that they are on the wrong side of history, the collapse of the USSR has given them an instructive lesson in how to avoid the same fate. This is a book about about the lessons they've learned, and how they're putting them into practice to ensure a red future.

It is not a book about Chinese politics in general, nor even about the government, but more specifically about how the Party, as an organisation, has reinvented itself in the twenty years since the Tiananmen incident. (It was fascinating to read that New Labour was one of its role models!)

It's non-technical and an easy read -- you don't have to be a China scholar to enjoy it.
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