Synopses & Reviews
An intimate investigation of the world’s largest experiment in social engineering, revealing how China became what it is today, where it’s inevitably headed, and the implications for the rest of the world
China adopted its one-child policy in 1979, exercising unprecedented control over the reproductive habits of more than one billion people. China now seems poised to overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy, but this law may be its undoing. The Soviet Union collapsed because of its wrongheaded attempt to engineer the market. What will come of China’s attempt to engineer its population? Mei Fong reveals the true human impact of government-mandated family planning, traveling across China to meet the people who live with its consequences. Their stories reveal a dystopian reality: unauthorized second children ignored by the state, only children supporting aging parents and grandparents on their own, villages teeming with ineligible bachelors. This demographic imbalance, Fong argues, will lead to further economic and societal turmoil in the years to come. Fong has spent over a decade documenting the repercussions of the one-child policy on every sector of Chinese society. She offers a nuanced and candid account of government planning gone awry.
Kynge's crisp assessment of the dynamics involved is both authoritative and eye-opening.
Should the U.S. worry about China? Most definitelybut, by Kynge's account, for different reasons from the ones being raised on Capitol Hill.
Let China sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world.” Napoleons words seem eerily prescient today, as the shock waves from Chinas awakening reverberate across the globe. In China Shakes the World, the former China bureau chief of the Financial Times, James Kynge, traces these tremors from Beijing to Europe to the Midwest as Chinas ravenous hunger for jobs, raw materials, energy, and food -- and its export of goods, workers, and investments -- drastically reshape world trade and politics.
Delving beyond mere recitation of by-now-familiar statistics, Kynges on-the-ground reporting provides alternative explanations for China's explosive transformation, revealing many of the usual reasons given for its growth to be myths. Most important for the future, he details Chinas deep, systemic weaknesses -- rampant fraud, crippling environmental crises, a corrupt banking system, faltering government institutions, a rapidly aging population -- that threaten even greater global disruptions. And he demonstrates the profound consequences of those weaknesses for American manufacturers, oil companies, banks, and ordinary consumers.
Through dramatic stories of entrepreneurs and visionaries, factory workers and store clerks at the heart of this global phenomenon, China Shakes the World explains how Chinas breakneck rise occurred, the extraordinary problems the country now faces, and the consequences of both for the twenty-first century.
An intimate investigation of the world's largest experiment in social engineering, revealing how its effects will shape China for decades to come, and what that means for the rest of the world
When Communist Party leaders adopted the one-child policy in 1980, they hoped curbing birth-rates would help lift China's poorest and increase the country's global stature. But at what cost? Now, as China closes the book on the policy after more than three decades, it faces a population grown too old and too male, with a vastly diminished supply of young workers.
Mei Fong has spent years documenting the policy's repercussions on every sector of Chinese society. In One Child, she explores its true human impact, traveling across China to meet the people who live with its consequences. Their stories reveal a dystopian reality: unauthorized second children ignored by the state, only-children supporting aging parents and grandparents on their own, villages teeming with ineligible bachelors, and an ungoverned adoption market stretching across the globe. Fong tackles questions that have major implications for China's future: whether its "Little Emperor" cohort will make for an entitled or risk-averse generation; how China will manage to support itself when one in every four people is over sixty-five years old; and above all, how much the one-child policy may end up hindering China's growth.
Weaving in Fong's reflections on striving to become a mother herself, One Child offers a nuanced and candid report from the extremes of family planning.
A gripping account of China’s failed attempt at social engineering and its pervasive effects on the Chinese people
About the Author
MEI FONG is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist with over a decade of reporting in Asia, most recently as China correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. She is a winner of Amnesty’s Human Rights Press Award, a 2013 recipient of a Ford Foundation grant for investigative journalism, and a 2015 New America Fellow. Her writing has also appeared in the Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, Salon, Forbes, and Far Eastern Economic Review. She has appeared on CNBC, CNN, National Public Radio, South China Post, and Singapore Straits Times.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments viii Introduction xi 1. Rags to Riches 1 2. The Future Is the Past (Except When It Isnt) 23 3. The Population Paradox: Innovation, Piracy, and the Grail of Market Share 45 4. The Ties That Bind: China Goes to Europe 73 5. America Bought and Sold: Acquiring Technology for a Great Leap Forward 101 6. Not Enough to Go Around: Natural Resources and Environmental Catastrophe 129 7. The Collapse of Social Trust 157 8. Communism vs. Democracy 183 9. Can We Be Friends? 213 Notes 243 Bibliography 253 Index 257