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Chinese Characters

Chinese Characters

Profiles of Fast-Changing Lives in a Fast-Changing Land

Though China is currently in the global spotlight, few outside its borders have a feel for the tremendous diversity of the lives being led inside the country. This collection of compelling stories challenges oversimplified views of China by shifting the focus away from the question of China’s place in the global order and zeroing in on what is happening on the ground. Some of the most talented and respected journalists and scholars writing about China today profile people who defy the stereotypes that are broadcast in print, over the airwaves, and online. These include an artist who copies classical paintings for export to tourist markets, Xi’an migrant workers who make a living recycling trash in the city dumps, a Taoist mystic, an entrepreneur hoping to strike it rich in the rental car business, an old woman about to lose her home in Beijing, and a crusading legal scholar.

The immense variety in the lives of these Chinese characters dispels any lingering sense that China has a monolithic population or is just a place where dissidents fight Communist Party loyalists and laborers create goods for millionaires. By bringing to life the exciting, saddening, humorous, confusing, and utterly ordinary stories of these people, the gifted contributors create a multi-faceted portrait of a remarkable country undergoing extraordinary transformations. —University of California Press

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Books

05.30.16

The China Triangle: Latin America's China Boom and the Fate of the Washington Consensus

Kevin P. Gallagher
In The China Triangle, Kevin P. Gallagher traces the development of the China-Latin America trade over time and covers how it has affected the centuries-old (and highly unequal) U.S.-Latin American relationship. He argues that despite these opportunities Latin American nations have little to show for riding the coattails of the ‘China Boom’ and now face significant challenges in the next decades as China’s economy slows down and shifts more toward consumption and services. While the Latin American region saw significant economic growth due to China's rise over the past decades, Latin Americans saved very little of the windfall profits it earned even as the region saw a significant hollowing of its industrial base. What is more, commodity-led growth during the China boom reignited social and environmental conflicts across the region. Scholars and reporters have covered the Chinese expansion into East Asia, Southeast Asia, Australasia, Africa, the U.S., and Europe. Yet China’s penetration Latin America is as little understood as it is significant-especially for America given its longstanding ties to the region. Gallagher provides a clear overview of China’s growing economic ties with Latin America and points to ways that Latin American nations, China, and even the United States can act in order to make the next decades of China-Latin America economic activity more prosperous for all involved. —Amazon{chop}

Books

05.18.16

Queer Marxism in Two Chinas

Petrus Liu
In Queer Marxism in Two Chinas, Petrus Liu rethinks the relationship between Marxism and queer cultures in mainland China and Taiwan. Whereas many scholars assume the emergence of queer cultures in China signals the end of Marxism and demonstrates China’s political and economic evolution, Liu finds the opposite to be true. He challenges the persistence of Cold War formulations of Marxism that position it as intellectually incompatible with queer theory, and shows how queer Marxism offers a nonliberal alternative to Western models of queer emancipation. The work of queer Chinese artists and intellectuals not only provides an alternative to liberal ideologies of inclusion and diversity, but demonstrates how different conceptions of and attitudes toward queerness in China and Taiwan stem from geopolitical tensions. With Queer Marxism in Two Chinas Liu offers a revision to current understandings of what queer theory is, does, and can be. —Duke University Press{chop}

Books

05.05.16

Alibaba

Duncan Clark
In just a decade and half, Jack Ma, a man from modest beginnings who started out as an English teacher, founded and built Alibaba into one of the world’s largest companies, an e-commerce empire on which hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers depend. Alibaba’s $25 billion IPO in 2014 was the largest global IPO ever. A Rockefeller of his age who is courted by CEOs and Presidents around the world, Jack is an icon for China’s booming private sector and the gatekeeper to hundreds of millions of middle class consumers.Duncan Clark first met Jack in 1999 in the small apartment where Jack founded Alibaba. Granted unprecedented access to a wealth of new material, including exclusive interviews, Clark draws on his own experience as an early adviser to Alibaba and two decades in China chronicling the Internet’s impact on the country to create an authoritative, compelling narrative account of Alibaba’s rise.How did Jack overcome his humble origins and early failures to achieve massive success with Alibaba? How did he outsmart rival entrepreneurs from China and Silicon Valley? Can Alibaba maintain its 80 percent market share? As it forges ahead into finance and entertainment, are there limits to Alibaba’s ambitions? How does the Chinese government view its rise? Will Alibaba expand further overseas, including in the U.S.? Clark tells Alibaba’s tale in the context of China’s momentous economic and social changes, illuminating an unlikely corporate titan as never before. —HarperCollins{chop}