"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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Night Waves - Billy Budd 18 June 2102

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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Insight: The other face of China

Juwono 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

In “The End of the Chinese Dream,” Gerard Lemos presents contemporary China as an angst- ridden place where the economic miracle of the past two decades has left a vast swath of the population fretting about the future. 

It’s not the lack of democracy or human rights that keeps the Chinese awake at night. Rather it’s the gnawing fear of unemployment, soaring health care costs and the prospect of old age with insufficient savings.

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.

Read More - Bloomberg Businessweek - Chinese Fret Over Retirement, Healthcare, Jobs: Review

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

Read More - The Telegraph - China past and present: review


What Keeps the Chinese Up at Night?

By Gerard Lemos

As China prepares for a leadership transition next month, problems are mounting: slowing economic growth, the political fallout from the Bo Xilai affair and destabilizing social problems. Chinese leaders find it hard to know what ordinary people really think.
For four years, I tried to answer this question, as I traveled to and from the foggy, industrial megacity of Chongqing as a visiting professor. I spent months teaching and studying in communities without foreigners around, where state-run factories had closed and where landless ex-farmers now live in barren blocks of apartments. 

Friday, 7 September 2012

Foreign Correspondents Club Lunch - Gerard Lemos - 1/3

Foreign Correspondents Club Lunch - Gerard Lemos - 2/3

Foreign Correspondents Club Lunch - Gerard Lemos - 3/3

The Fragrant Harbour

The End of the Chinese Dream? 

A book about Chinese fears and dreams
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
Lemos read out some of the things people wrote down. Many said they were concerned about healthcare, particularly when they got older, as the cost of treatment and drugs are expensive. Others felt the pressures of the education system, that young people only have one shot at getting into university with the gaokao system and if they didn't get in, they would not only feel shame, but financially would wonder what to do.

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.