Summary of What Does China Think?

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What Does China Think? book summary
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Mark Leonard’s desultory ramble through China’s intellectual landscape introduces that country’s most influential economic, political, diplomatic and military thinkers. In a market nearly saturated with books that do little more than echo each other’s amazed exclamations at China’s rapid economic development, getAbstract considers this a refreshing change. The book does not offer in-depth analysis of the ideas it presents, nor does it assess their merits and demerits in any detail. It merely introduces a few very prominent Chinese intellectuals and offers a brief summary of their ideas. The book’s chief value is that it acknowledges the breadth of the diversity of thought within China, and spotlights the conflicts and tensions that are shaping its development.

About the Author

Mark Leonard is executive director of the European Council on Foreign Relations and director of the Foreign Policy Centre. He wrote Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century.



China’s Ideas

China’s ascent may be this century’s most important event. Vast China has the world’s largest population. It is the planet’s factory floor, rapidly becoming its most gluttonous devourer of energy and mineral resources. It has developed at a blazing rate. Entire cities emerge overnight. Millions of people have moved into its postmodern metropolises, leaving a countryside where life’s rhythm has changed little since the first emperor.

China can change – and is changing – how the world thinks about international affairs, politics and economics. Take the alleged correlation between economic development and democracy. China is the black swan whose very existence disproves the theorem that all swans are white, for China has achieved amazing wealth without yielding any party control over political discourse. However, today’s China is not the China of Chairman Mao Tse-tung’s heyday – an undifferentiated, monochrome, lockstep march directed by an undisputed strongman. Nor is it the China of Mao’s latter-day struggles – a turbulent, chaotic explosion of Red Guards and Cultural Revolution. Indeed, much of China’s intellectual tension comes from trying to balance...

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