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If anyone needs a reminder of the inscrutability and mercilessness of the Stalin and Mao regimes, these books can help.
It is well known that the populations of China and Japan are aging. But this book shows that the same is true throughout Asia—except in the poorest countries, where life expectancies are low. According to the book’s authors, by 2050, the portion of Asians over age 65 will range from 14 percent, in India, to 38 percent, in Japan. In the United States, the figure will be about 20 percent.
Here, for the first time, is the full story of Washington’s official relationship with Tibet, from the first encounter between a U.S. diplomat and the then Dalai Lama in 1908 to the recent pattern of congressional and White House pressure on Beijing to engage in dialogue with the Tibetan leadership in exile.
In early 2009, during the closing weeks of the Sri Lankan civil war, the Tamil Tigers—a militant group that had waged a bloody, decades-long campaign to win independence for Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority—herded 300,000 Tamil civilians into a shrinking redoubt on the island’s northeast coast, forcing them to serve as human shields against the encroaching Sri Lankan army. Weiss, a UN official in Colombo at the time, provides harrowing details, as well as insight into the decades of brutal conflict that brought the two sides to the point where they were willing to commit war crimes.
Faced with the end of the Cold War and the intensification of globalization, the Vietnamese leadership began to rethink their country’s foreign policy in the 1990s. Elliott’s interviews and his close reading of texts show that the country’s revolutionary true believers went through a contentious process to justify a more pragmatic approach.
Recent power struggles in China have generated torrents of leaks and rumors. The sources, always obscure, apparently seek to influence the course of the struggles by outing secrets and maligning reputations. In the case detailed in this book, they succeeded.
These three works concur in their skeptical assessments of the threat posed to the United States by China, but their reasoning is different. Since aggrandizement generates resistance, Luttwak argues, China’s economic and military rise is producing a seemingly paradoxical decline in its diplomatic influence. In Chan's view, because Asian governments, including China’s, need to foster prosperity to legitimize their rule, they have an incentive to cooperate with one another and with others. Shambaugh, meanwhile, provides a masterful survey of China’s presence on the world scene, showing that in every field -- diplomatic, economic, military, and cultural -- Beijing’s influence, although growing, remains limited
This addition to the venerable Introduction to Asian Civilizations series marks a major step in the maturation of Vietnam studies in the American academy. The book translates excerpts from more than 200 texts, many previously unavailable in Western languages, dating from the year 297 to 1991.
The flow of women from poorer parts of the world to fill gaps in the marriage markets of richer countries is one of the less examined features of globalization. In trying to maintain “racial purity” without inviting a flood of outside Koreans, the South Korean government created bureaucratic barriers to the very flow of brides it was trying to promote, which led to the forged claims of kinship alluded to in the book’s title and other attempts to game the system.
For decades, Japan avoided widespread poverty through a system of guaranteed lifetime employment, which made a European-style social welfare system unnecessary. But lifetime employment rested on a substructure of gender discrimination.
A growing scholarly literature has left no doubt that the greatest famine in history, with a death toll of around 36 million Chinese, was caused not by natural disasters but by excessive state levies ordered by Chairman Mao Zedong. But in China, these facts remain officially taboo. For Yang, a journalist and one-time believer in Mao’s utopian vision, discovering the truth was a personal quest.
The Washington-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea produces valuable research that sheds light on life in the “hermit kingdom.” These three recent reports reveal North Korea’s extraordinary system of repression.
In recent years, the main source of friction in the U.S.-Japanese defense relationship has been local opposition to the basing of U.S. marines on the Japanese island of Okinawa. McCormack and Norimatsu lay bare the resentment’s deep historical roots.
As China grows, White argues, no one can be sure that the Chinese “will settle for as little as an equal share in the leadership of Asia.”
Sorting through a flood of memoirs and histories published in China in recent years, Guo has assembled the most detailed picture yet of China’s vast multiagency domestic security apparatus.
The politicization of prosecutions for corruption in China makes official data untrustworthy, but Wedeman has still found plausible ways to assess different types of corruption and their frequency.
India’s economic reforms of the 1980s through the first decade of this century unleashed private enterprise, encouraged foreign investment, and expanded foreign trade. Kohli calls this economic strategy “pro-business” rather than “pro-market” because it coddles big firms.
Moon, a well-known scholar, served as an adviser to Kim Dae-jung, South Korea’s president from 1998 until 2003, and to Roh Moo-hyun, who held the presidency from 2003 until 2008. The two presidents tried to thaw relations with Pyongyang, build trust, and create conditions for gradual change in the North’s political and economic systems that might lead to coexistence and eventually to peaceful unification. Moon blames U.S. President George W. Bush for disrupting those efforts before they had a chance to build on what he claims were initial successes.
Only in Japan could post-office reform become the political fight of the decade, and this book explains why.
The politicization of prosecutions for corruption in China makes official data untrustworthy, but Wedeman has still found plausible ways to assess different types of corruption and their frequency. Nee and Opper come at the question of business-government relations in China from a different angle, but their findings converge with Wedeman’s. Their main point is that the Chinese market economy was created not from above, by the state, but from below, by entrepreneurs.
India’s economic reforms of the 1980s through the first decade of this century unleashed private enterprise, encouraged foreign investment, and expanded foreign trade. Kohli calls this economic strategy “pro-business” rather than “pro-market” because it coddles big firms. Bhagwati, Panagariya, and their contributors present an alternative view based on an analysis of survey and economic data. They show that poverty has fallen among even the most disadvantaged caste and tribal groups.
Hamilton-Hart raises a fascinating, overlooked question: Why is the United States widely viewed as a benign power in Southeast Asia, its presence welcomed rather than feared despite the many violent, selfish, and unwise things it has done over the years?
In China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam, one universal principle underlies the fine-grained distinctions on which courtesy rests: politeness is used to express, reinforce, or contest power relationships.
Six years ago, the overthrow of the Nepalese monarchy and a negotiated peace brought the self-declared (but not Chinese-endorsed) Maoist insurgents into government in Nepal. Today, the country is stuck. The book’s deeply informed contributors from the diplomatic, nongovernmental organization, academic, and journalistic worlds look hard for rays of hope, but they find few.
The World Bank and the Chinese government collaborated on this report, which suggests strategies to help China avoid the “middle-income trap.” The report also has a political subtext, which might reflect the intentions of some members of China’s incoming leadership.
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