Wealth and Power: China's Long March to the Twenty-first Century
Orville Schell, John Delury
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Through a series of lively and absorbing portraits of iconic modern Chinese leaders and thinkers, two of today’s foremost specialists on China provide a panoramic narrative of this country’s rise to preeminence that is at once analytical and personal. How did a nation, after a long and painful period of dynastic decline, intellectual upheaval, foreign occupation, civil war, and revolution, manage to burst forth onto the world stage with such an impressive run of hyperdevelopment and wealth creation—culminating in the extraordinary dynamism of China today?
Wealth and Power answers this question by examining the lives of eleven influential officials, writers, activists, and leaders whose contributions helped create modern China. This fascinating survey begins in the lead-up to the first Opium War with Wei Yuan, the nineteenth-century scholar and reformer who was one of the first to urge China to borrow ideas from the West. It concludes in our time with human-rights advocate and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, an outspoken opponent of single-party rule. Along the way, we meet such titans of Chinese history as the Empress Dowager Cixi, public intellectuals Feng Guifen, Liang Qichao, and Chen Duxiu, Nationalist stalwarts Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek, and Communist Party leaders Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and Zhu Rongji.
The common goal that unites all of these disparate figures is their determined pursuit of fuqiang, “wealth and power.” This abiding quest for a restoration of national greatness in the face of a “century of humiliation” at the hands of the Great Powers came to define the modern Chinese character. It’s what drove both Mao and Deng to embark on root-and-branch transformations of Chinese society, first by means of Marxism-Leninism, then by authoritarian capitalism. And this determined quest remains the key to understanding many of China’s actions today.
By unwrapping the intellectual antecedents of today’s resurgent China, Orville Schell and John Delury supply much-needed insight into the country’s tortured progression from nineteenth-century decline to twenty-first-century boom. By looking backward into the past to understand forces at work for hundreds of years, they help us understand China today and the future that this singular country is helping shape for all of us.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
“Superb . . . beautifully written and neatly structured.”—Financial Times
“[An] engaging narrative of the intellectual and cultural origins of China’s modern rise.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Informative and insightful . . . a must-read for anyone with an interest in the world’s fastest-rising superpower.”—Slate
“It does a better job than most other books of answering a basic question the rest of the world naturally asks about China’s recent rise: What does China want?”—The Atlantic
“The portraits are beautifully written and bring to life not only their subjects but also the mood and intellectual debates of the times in which they lived.”—Foreign Affairs
“Excellent and erudite . . . [The authors] combine scholarly learning with a reportorial appreciation of colorful, revealing details.”—The National Interest
From the Hardcover edition.
built on lies as an offering to the souls of the dead, delivered through me, of memory that refuses to be erased. I feel that those who perished that day are looking down on me from above. They look down on a person privileged still to be alive … and I am haunted by the grave responsibility of being still alive.28 What gave Liu’s writing about the 1989 massacre such resonance was his humanistic perspective, which he had acquired in part from reading China’s greatest twentieth-century writer,
world history. And what is interesting is that it has done so by following the path first laid out by Sun Yat-sen a century ago, then adopted by Chiang Kai-shek, and finally subscribed to, in one variation or another, by most subsequent leaders since: namely, by prescribing some vague kind of democracy as a long-term goal, but deferring its implementation until a protracted period of authoritarian “tutelage” could consolidate China’s sovereign power, enrich the nation, and prepare the people for
University—a formidable force of its own in modern Chinese history—hosted John as a visiting professor for a summer of intensive research and writing. Professor Peng Xiaoyu not only made that possible, but also through many conversations comparing East and West opened up new perspectives on modern China. Also at PKU, Chen Changwei, Lei Bo, and Yu Jinghui helped in ways big and small with our research and thinking. To Tom Engelhardt, who over the many years of editing Orville’s work has come to
of her exile to see the Forbidden City with his own eyes. “I went into her sleeping apartments. Others also entered there, sat upon her couch, and had their friends photograph them. I could not allow myself to do so. I stood silent, with head uncovered as I gazed with wonder and admiration at the bed, with its magnificently embroidered curtains hanging from the ceiling to the floor, its yellow-satin mattress ten feet in length and its great round, hard pillow, with the delicate silk spreads
death—to get the economy running again. A Calm Between Storms Forced to the sidelines, with the sour taste of failure and tacit rebuke in his mouth, Mao now turned his attention from domestic affairs to China’s relations with Russia. Having watched as the USSR turned “revisionist” under Khrushchev, Mao was not about to countenance China falling prey to a similar “capitalist restoration.” But soon enough he began regrouping his forces on the home front, and in 1963 he was off again, this