China Briefing, 1990

In This Review

China Briefing, 1990

Edited by Anthony J. Kane
Westview Press (with the China Council of the Asia Society), 1990
214 pp. $33.85

This annual volume on China continues to be extremely informative. In this assessment, eight American China-watchers offer a balanced and perceptive view of events leading up to Tiananmen. There is a good introduction by Anthony Kane and excellent essays by Kenneth Lieberthal, Dwight Perkins and Martin Whyte. Perkins, in a superb contribution on the economy, argues that the political crisis of 1989 did not create a comparable economic crisis, and he points out that the Chinese peasantry has benefited from the dramatic rise in farm incomes during the 1980s and is not as disaffected from the government as are many intellectuals and city dwellers. He also observes that prior to Tiananmen the reformers created more than 100 million jobs in nonagricultural occupations and that this has reduced some of the pressure on the political system. Finally, he notes that many of the provincial and country governments that benefited from the more liberal policies of the reform period are resisting any large-scale curtailment of their independence in economic affairs. In sum, the current situation in China is much more complex than it is often portrayed in the American media. For anyone who wishes to understand it, this is the book with which to start.

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