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.
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