"The End of the Chinese Dream still ranks as one of the works on the Chinese dream most worth reading…..This timely and controversial book is crucial to understand the dark sides of the Chinese dream, and for the development of future research.... This book should be required reading for serious social policy makers, scholars and students who are interested in social policy in China." Kai Chen, Zhejiang University, China
"The End of the Chinese Dream challenges everything we believe about China. This is a book that must be read by anyone who struggles to understand the greatest experiment underway in the world today." John Gray, Emeritus Professor of European Thought, London School of Economics, and author of False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism
"The End of the Chinese Dream is highly original and unusual. Gerard Lemos has written with real insight into the fears and dreams of ordinary Chinese people. Anyone who wants to get behind misleading headlines about China should read this important book." Zhou Xun, Department of History, University of Hong Kong
"Those looking for a meaningful yet concise interpretation of Chinese history, paired with original and revealing insight on the country’s social state, will find a good read in The End of the Chinese Dream. The book’s anecdotes will entertain even the most avid China watchers. The author does an excellent job in summing up the most palpable evidence that not all is well in the People’s Republic." China Economic Review
"A fascinating insight into the people’s hopes and fears….The Chinese government should be grateful for Lemos’s work because it tells them what their corrupt local officials perhaps do not…This is, therefore, an important contribution to answering one of the great 21st-century questions: How will China’s leaders deal with the universality of human hope?” Humphrey Hawksley, BBC Foreign Correspondent, Global Briefing
"Lemos lifts the lid on systemic social problems: lack of healthcare; a broken education system, distorted family structures due to the one child policy and no recourse for those whose property is seized by the state" Leslie Hook, Financial Times
"Mr. Lemos performs a valuable substantive service by exposing the dark side of China's rise." Minxin Pei, The Wall Street Journal
"The End of the Chinese Dream shows what can be discovered despite official obstruction...Lemos’s snapshots reveal people traumatised by rapid change and the loss of community and family ties, deeply anxious about the insecurities of old age and resentful of flourishing corruption and ineffective justice." Isabel Hilton, New Statesman
"Lemos shows, with the weight of [his] impressive research, why the China of today cannot yet lay claim to [being] an exemplar for the rest of the world, and a real challenge to the United States." Rana Mitter, Daily Telegraph
"Lemos has a fine eye for detail...for the uninitiated eager to look beyond the veneer of China’s glitzy coastal cities and official propaganda, Lemos’s book is an excellent primer" Frederik Balfour, Bloomberg
"Lemos found that beneath the myth of a harmonious society most of these people were living in constant social and financial anxiety…All the problems listed in the book are true and well documented." Chow Chung-yan, South China Morning Post
"The End of the Chinese Dream is a much-needed and remarkably well-timed glimpse into the underbelly of this Asian tiger, one that reveals the terrible burdens of a growing wealth gap, rising prices, decaying communities, and weakened social safety nets. Lemos offers a view of China outside the glamorous city centers of Beijing and Shanghai, telling the stories that censors keep away from international eyes." Gordon Cain, The New Republic
"This is a welcome and highly readable account of the travails wrought on China's people by history's most powerful plutocracy." Frank Dikotter, University of Hong Kong, author of Mao’s Great Famine, the Sunday Times
"Given the number of books on China that are out there already, it is probably reasonable to ask whether we need any more…The End of the Chinese Dream suggests that the answer is “yes”…Lemos’ work helps us remember why it is that China faces as many as 180,000 protests annually and why it is that Chinese leaders spend so much time talking about the need for grassroots reform." Elizabeth Economy, Council on Foreign Relations
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Friday, 16 November 2012
Good governance before democracy
Humphrey Hawksley, BBC World Affairs Correspondent
The End of the Chinese Dream: Why Chinese People Fear the Future
Gerard Lemos, Yale University Press, London, 2012, 352pp, ISBN 9780300169249
Gerard Lemos’s book on China begins on a London housing estate and ends with thoughts about the Arab Spring. In between, the author takes us to central China where he sets about assessing the aspirations of the citizens living in and around the megacity of Chongqing.
His findings are made more salient because Chongqing was recently the fiefdom of the fallen politician Bo Xilai, who attempted to mesh the contradictions of consumer society within an authoritarian state by reviving operas from the Cultural Revolution and the teachings of Mao Zedong.
Fresh from his surveys on the fractious and run-down Aylesbury estate in south-east London, in China Lemos uses a version of the ancient Chinese Wish Tree where people write down their wishes and tie them to its branches. With a small army of helpers, he devises four questions: Who are you? What event changed your life? What is your biggest worry? What do you wish for?
The answers give us a fascinating insight into the people’s hopes and fears: about losing jobs, factories closing, land seizures, growing old, corrupt government and – most prevalent – about non-existent or unaffordable health care.
Read More - Global - Good governance before democracy
Friday, 19 October 2012
Viewpoint: Fear and loneliness in China
|In the Mao era, the cramped factories set up did also manage to foster a sense of community|
I saw this when visiting a factory community in Beijing in 2008. On the face of it, this was a peculiar act to perform in a public space, but people walked past taking no notice. In such traditional Chinese communities, this public square served as a communal living room; most of the people around are friends and neighbours. Not being surprised by the unusual behaviour of your neighbours is an aspect of intimate community life.
But this kind of sight will become rarer as a changing China sees the fragmentation of these communities.
Read More - BBC News - Viewpoint: Fear and Loneliness in China
Tuesday, 9 October 2012
A new book offers a tentative view of the largely uncharted terrain of public opinion in China, writes Kerry Brown
Tuesday, 2 October 2012
The hazards of Chinese
"The End of the Chinese Dream: Why Chinese People Fear the Future" and "Scattered Sand: the Story of China’s Rural Migrants" reviewed.
Yale University Press, 352p, £20
Scattered Sand: the Story of China’s Rural Migrants
Verso, 316pp, £16.99
Any day now, the Chinese political system will go into spasm and produce a new leadership. The backstory of the choices will remain largely unknown, despite astonishing recent glimpses of the infighting in what increasingly resembles the world’s biggest mafia organisation.
If the past is any guide, at the climax of the Chinese Communist Party congress, scheduled for this autumn, nine middle-aged men with implausibly black hair and tightly set expressions will march on to the big stage in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People to rapturous applause. These illuminati will be the new incumbents of China’s most powerful entity, the standing committee of the politburo.
At the end of their expected two terms of office, these men and their families will be fabulously rich. They will be alert throughout to the demands of supporters and wary of attacks by rivals. They will place their allies in key posts to guard against future reversals of fortune. Much lower down their list of concerns will be what the 1.3 billion people they rule might be thinking as they watch this change of shift at the top.
Read More - NewStatesmen - The Hazards of Chinese Authoritarianism
Wednesday, 26 September 2012
Insight: The other face of ChinaJuwono Sudarsono, Jakarta | Insight | Tue, September 25 2012, 9:28 AM
Books about contemporary China can be divided into two schools. By far, the most numerous belong to the first, which largely praises China’s rapid and impressive macroeconomic growth since the early 1990s. These groups of academics, businessmen and journalists believe that China’s rise as an economic power will surpass the United States, making them “the world’s largest economy” by 2030. They project that China will not only become the premier economic power, but also become the preeminent military and political power that overwhelmingly determines the terms and conditions of the new world system, replacing the United States in the military, financial and monetary power index to the point of dominating the commanding heights of world influence.
Political and economic analysts vie with fund managers, public relations specialists, economic and business forums , futurists and psychics, along with outright hucksters seeking to land a fat contract with a Chinese investment company or government office keen at expounding notions such as “when China rules the world”, “the post- American world” or “the hemispheric shift to the Asia and the Pacific”, with all the consequences of how that trajectory of Chinese power will impact the rest of the world.
Read More - The Jakarta Post - Insight: The other face of China
Chinese Fret Over Retirement, Healthcare, Jobs: Review
By Frederik Balfour on September 25, 2012
The book’s findings are based on research Lemos began in 2007 in Chongqing, a city little visited by foreigners at the time. It has since become associated with the murder in November of British businessman Neil Heywood by Gu Kailai, the wife of disgraced former Communist Party boss Bo Xilai.
Lemos sidesteps the ban on academics conducting independent social research by adapting a millennia-old Confucian tradition called the Wish Tree, where supplicants tie their desires to branches of a tree in temple courtyards.
Monday, 10 September 2012
China past and present: review
Some of the reasons that China’s leadership may be distracted from visions of world domination are made clear in Gerard Lemos’s The End of the Chinese Dream. Lemos spent four years working in Chongqing, the city that has become notorious for the Bo Xilai murder scandal, but his account is of a less lurid but equally troubling failing in Chinese government. He examines the model of welfarist authoritarianism with which the Chinese Communist Party is attempting to gain the “performance legitimacy” that might keep it in power, and finds it seriously wanting
What Keeps the Chinese Up at Night?By Gerard Lemos
Friday, 7 September 2012
The Fragrant Harbour
The End of the Chinese Dream?
|A book about Chinese fears and dreams|
Tonight I attended a talk put on by the Asia Society, presenting British sociologist Gerard Lemos who has written a book called The End of the Chinese Dream -- Why Chinese People Fear the Future.
So I was hoping for a stimulating talk as did a number of other people in the audience, including former Chief Secretary Anson Chan.
However when Lemos began his talk, he cautioned he was not a China expert, only a sociologist and his findings were not necessarily scientific either.
What he did was he went to Chongqing in 2006 and at the time the Bo Xilai had yet to become Party Secretary of China's largest municipality of 30 million people.
The officials at the time were interested in finding out what ordinary people thought of policies and how they could plan for the future.
And while Lemos was there, making his first trip to China, he observed the Chinese liked to write wishes and put them on trees. And the higher up the tree they were, then the higher the chance the wish would be carried up to the heavens.
So the expert on social policy hit on the idea of creating another version of wishing trees where he gave people "leaves" to answer four questions:
1. Who are you?
2. What event changed your life?
3. What is your greatest worry?
4. What do you wish for?
He put these wishing trees in three areas in Chongqing, one near a tire factory that had employed 3,000 people that was shut down, one near some farmers' land that had been expropriated for development, and one near a historical area that has become a tourist spot.
|British sociologist Gerard Lemos|
He observed the high savings rate of young people, and put it down to the high cost of education, particularly now with one child.
Another issue is old age, and those prematurely laid off wonder how they are going to pay bills when they get older, while the one-child policy seems to have created unhappy families who are not seeing their traditional Chinese family values come to fruition and instead pour all their hopes and dreams into one child.
And then there are the "ant tribes", fresh graduates who are living in cramped quarters and having trouble finding work -- work that requires a university degree. They feel it is beneath them to take on a factory job, or perhaps would feel shame if it was discovered that was the only job they could get.
Lemos said he also did the wishing tree exercise in two areas in Beijing and got similar results.
What are we to make of all of this?
He wants us to read his book to find out, but basically his unscientific observations and answers from ordinary people show that in the late 1970s when China first opened up, there was the possibility of gaining wealth, of have the means to buy things, to have a better life and this is what fueled the Chinese dream.
But now some people are feeling that they are left out and left behind from the optimism and the dream, Lemos says.
What is also interesting is that when there were complaints about the system, people did not point fingers at particular officials, but felt the system wasn't working for them; they inherently knew trying to blame someone was not going to help.
Another observation was that more people were turning to religion to help them explain the world as it became more complicated. Lemos explained this was a phenomenon he was seeing in other places too -- like India and South Africa.
So really Lemos should be doing a world-wide reading with his four questions and then collating the answers to see what kind of country comparisons can be made, since he is not a China specialist.
Nevertheless, he has conducted an interesting project -- and should ask these same four questions again in another 10 years in China to see where people are with their Chinese dream.
Tuesday, 21 August 2012
The hidden kingdom
Review by Leslie Hook
China’s rapid transformation is the great story of our age. But how do the 1.3bn Chinese feel about the way their country has changed over the past three decades? What are the hopes and fears of China’s factory workers, farmers and pensioners? And what do their aspirations mean for the Communist party’s grip on power?
These are the questions Gerard Lemos seeks to answer in The End of the Chinese Dream. The British sociologist tackled the challenges facing UK housing estates in The Communities We Have Lost and Can Regain (1997), co-written with Michael Young. In his new book Lemos turns his eye on Chongqing, the urban district of 33m in southern China where he worked as a visiting professor between 2006 and 2010, and now familiar to westerners as the scene of the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.
Lemos’s conclusions are bleak. By conducting a poll of 1,400 people, Lemos lifts the lid on systemic social problems: lack of healthcare, a broken education system, distorted family structures due to the one-child policy and no recourse for those whose property is seized by the state – which happens regularly.
Read More - Financial Times - The hidden kingdom
Tuesday, 7 August 2012
Mainland MalaiseLORETTA TOFANI | AUGUST 13, 2012
The End of the Chinese Dream
WHY CHINESE PEOPLE FEAR THE FUTURE
BY GERARD LEMOS
Gerard Lemos, a former visiting professor in China from the United Kingdom, paints a disturbing picture of the failure of China’s extraordinary economic growth to benefit hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens. After conducting a remarkable survey in China, Lemos links the economic problems and fears of ordinary Chinese to the policies of China’s authoritarian leadership, both local and national. Although most of Lemos’s research occurs in Chongqing, where the recently deposed Politburo member Bo Xilai was party secretary, the problems he describes exist throughout China.
In The End of the Chinese Dream: Why Chinese People Fear the Future, Lemos concludes that “the People’s Republic of China is now run by the wealthy for the benefit of the wealthy.” Hundreds of millions of ordinary Chinese are the losers. They are “deeply insecure about themselves and their future” he writes, just when the rest of the world has become “star-struck by the apparent prospect of China’s imminent glory.”
Read More - America Magazine - Mainland Malaise
Wednesday, 1 August 2012
A new book pinpoints the anxieties ordinary Chinese feel.By MINXIN PEI
Like a share listed on an exchange, the world's perception of China fluctuates as foreigners go from bullish to bearish. One gauge of how the country's image is faring is the latest crop of China books. Three years ago, when the country seemed like the inevitable superpower, Martin Jacques came out with "When China Rules the World." A book titled "What the U.S. Can Learn from China" even advised the apparently dysfunctional United States to take a page or two from Beijing's playbook.
Now China is caught in a downward spiral of sentiment, thanks to a precipitous economic slowdown and the exposure of the Bo Xilai affair. This downbeat mood was first reflected in March with Shaun Rein's "The End of Cheap China: Economic and Cultural Trends That Will Disrupt the World." Gerard Lemos's "The End of the Chinese Dream: Why Chinese People Fear the Future," captures it even better, because he nails the anxiety middle-class Chinese are feeling.
Read More - The Wall Street Journal - The Chinese Awakening
Protests show fears of Chinese kids
Gerard Lemos August 01, 2012
|“I wish the stream outside my house |
won’t be murky anymore
However, less widely noted internationally was the apparently unprecedented involvement of children and young people in Shifang. Much discussed on the internet, this has not gone unnoticed in the Chinese media. Commenting on this new trend, the Global Times evoked unhappy memories of the Cultural Revolution when young people, as Red Guards, were at the forefront of upheaval and “showed a tendency to violence and cruelty”.
In the past children may not have “rushed to the…protest scene to support a demand made by adults” as reported by the Global Times in Shifang, but in the consultation activities I undertook in Chongqing, a city in south west China, in 2007 and 2008 (published in July by Yale University Press in The End of the Chinese Dream: Why Chinese people fear the future) the concerns of children about the environment – globally and locally – were all too evident. As in the West, children and young people will play a big role in shaping public attitudes to environmental problems in the future and policymakers would be unwise to ignore them.
Read More - Chiandialogue - Protests show Chinese kids' fears
Thursday, 26 July 2012
Back to Mao?
Monday, 23 July 2012
Eight Questions: Gerard Lemos, ‘The End of the Chinese Dream’
Read More - China Realtime Report - Eight Questions
The missing piece of the green jigsaw puzzleWhen China's business becomes everyone's business
Read More - China Daily - The Missing piece of the green jigsaw puzzle
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
SUNDAY TIMES CULTURE REVIEW
A society in trauma
The End of the Chinese Dream: Why Chinese People Fear the Future
Read More - Times Higher Education - The End of the Chinese Dream
|In the city where Bo Xilai made his name, disposessed |
residents say what they want © Gerard Lemos
But after Tian’anmen and Deng Xiaoping’s renewal of the Party’s reforming zeal on his southern tour in 1992 state-owned enterprises which had been previously unaffected by economic reform were restructured. Loss-making factories closed and work units were combined into something like modern corporations, though the Party still owned at least a 70 per cent stake. Millions became unemployed and the “iron rice bowl” was peremptorily smashed. Their old communities have been demolished and ways of life abandoned. If they were lucky they got tiny, isolated flats in poorly built tower blocks as compensation. There is no longer anywhere to do tai ji or take the caged birds out for a stroll. More seriously, without a job or welfare support they have no prospect of prosperity or wellbeing. Too often they were cheated out of their meager entitlements and got nothing.
Read More - Prospect - The end of the Chinese Dream
CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.
The Other China
July 5, 2012
|A Chinese labourer waits for a job at the Chaotianmen Port along the Yangtze River in downtown Chongqing on December 3, 2000. (Guang Niu/Courtesy Reuters)|