In This Review

China's Economic Reform: A Study with Documents
China's Economic Reform: A Study with Documents
By Christopher Howe et al.
RoutledgeCurzon, 2003, 416 pp
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China Cross Talk: The American Debate Over China Policy Since Normalization: A Reader
China Cross Talk: The American Debate Over China Policy Since Normalization: A Reader
By Scott Kennedy.
Rowman & Littlefield, 2003, 368 pp
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These two books are remarkably successful in telling big stories through collections of documents. The Howe, Kueh, and Ash volume provides a vivid insider's view of the thinking and analyses that led China to abandon central planning and seek to establish a market economy. This collection of official documents and the writings of intellectuals close to the decision-makers offers a firsthand account of the elite's distress over the faltering economy Mao erected and of the urgency for change. The documents also make clear that the Chinese have yet to put in place the rules and regulations essential to a dynamic economy. Howe's introductory chapter is a balanced overview of the history of Beijing's economic policies, which is followed by a chronological chart that outlines the major political and economic developments from 1964 to 2001. The rest of the book consists of the translated documents that trace the twists and turns of China's reform policies. The Kennedy-edited reader provides a similar firsthand chronological account by participants, this time Americans who have sought to direct U.S. China policy. The documents include statements by American presidents, congressional testimony by leading experts and government officials, floor debates by members of Congress, and editorials in leading journals. The documents capture both the passionate spirit of the debates and the widespread search for better understanding of the Chinese government and peoples. The selected documents highlight the extent to which the debate over China policy has changed over the years. On the whole, however, the divide has been between the bipartisan coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats calling for engagement with China, on the one hand, and more extreme liberal Democrats criticizing China on human rights along with more conservative Republicans who still have Cold War concerns, on the other.