Summary of Understanding China

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Understanding China book summary


6 Overall

5 Applicability

6 Innovation

5 Style


John Bryan Starr presents an overview of China, including its geography, history, political system, economy, and social-cultural system. His excellent, in-depth analysis discusses various Chinese institutions and issues, including the military, the educational system, urban and rural problems, population growth, environment degradation, human rights, culture, and intellectual freedom. However, you should view this book as a background introduction, since most of its information dates from research completed by 1995. For the latest developments in China, refer to more current sources. The book, which is written directly and clearly without academic jargon, is directed primarily toward westerners, particularly in the United States. recommends this book to executives in companies that are expanding into China or negotiating with Chinese business leaders, or to anyone who wants a background of solid information about China.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How China’s geography, history, political system, family structure and military fuel the destabilizing growth that is causing major problems today;
  • How this rapid economic growth has affected the country and the world;
  • Why the Chinese now enjoy more individual freedom and yet still cling to regional traditions; and
  • How family relationships still shape China’s culture, despite its political and economic development.

About the Author

John Bryan Starr is the author of many articles and books on China, including Ideology and Culture and Continuing the Revolution: The Political Thought of Mao. He is editor of The Future of U.S.-China Relations and has taught at the University of California, Yale, and Dartmouth. He was president of the Yale China Association for 15 years and of the China Institute in New York City. He is now managing director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform.



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China’s economy is growing so rapidly that some predict it will be the world’s largest economy by 2040. China’s economic growth has been accompanied by political liberalization, as the government has reduced its tight controls. As a result, the Chinese now have more...

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