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Best International Relations Books of 2011

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The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers

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The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers
By Richard Mcgregor
Harper, 2010
320 pp. $27.99
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The secret to China's economic and diplomatic successes -- as well as its problems with corruption and human rights -- is the power of the country's small elite to manage all aspects of society, including itself. This straight-for-the-jugular account by the Financial Times' former Beijing bureau chief focuses on the Chinese Communist Party's control of businesses but also covers its methods of coordinating government operations, the military, and the media. The system is not seamless. McGregor analyzes factional disputes in the leadership, corruption in government and enterprises, and strains between commanders and commissars in the army. The secretive Organization Department, which manages cadres' careers, is key to the system's survival and, possibly, its eventual decay. At its best, the department vets rising officials based on performance across a range of indicators. At its worst, it promotes yes men and legacy brats. Its steady gaze motivates some local officials to excel and others to cover up their misdeeds. As long as the party remains the ultimate source of wealth and power, its ability to police itself will determine China's fate.

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