Courtesy Reuters

China Under Deng: A Great Leap Forward?

In This Review

China Wakes

By Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn
Times Books, 1994
408 pp. $25.00

Recently, on the Bund in Shanghai, I gazed at a bronze statue of Mao Zedong’s foreign minister, Chen Yi, and thought of a courageous remark he uttered at the height of the Cultural Revolution in 1967. "Marx came from Germany," Chen said as Mao-worshipping Red Guards assailed him at the foreign ministry. "A Kautsky and a Bernstein were produced there to modify him. Lenin came from the Soviet Union; a Khrushchev appeared there. Chairman Mao belongs to our country; there may also be someone to modify him, wait and see."

We waited, and we have seen. Mao has been modified by Deng Xiaoping. Shanghai in appearance has ceased to be a city of the Mao era (clothing of one style, political slogans on every wall) and become a city of the Deng era (advertisements everywhere, traffic jams, the dust and hammering of construction). Has Deng buried only Mao, or Marx and Lenin too?


New York Times reporters Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn spent 1988-1993 in Beijing, and for their coverage of the Tiananmen crisis became the first married couple to win a Pulitzer Prize for journalism. Now their book of reportage, memories, and reflections captures the late Deng era, in which Tiananmen was digested, by Chinese and foreigners alike, and "economic boom" became the new code word for China.

America’s scrutinizing of China during the century and a half since the Yankee clipper ships began calling at Canton has thrown to the fore few journalists as cool and professional as WuDunn and Kristof. Every page of China Wakes is trenchant, and I cannot think of a reportorial book on China so zealous in investigation and so painstaking in probing issues from every angle.

Reading this book reminds one of how China and the image of China in America have changed in one generation. In 1964, when I first visited Beijing, about 500 foreigners lived there and only one foreign airline, Aeroflot, flew into the capital. No American

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