The Search for Modern China

The Search for Modern China

The Search for Modern China

The Search for Modern China

Synopsis

Beautifully written by a leading scholar in the field, the new edition of The Search for Modern China brings to life the characters and events of China's turbulent modern history. The narrative is detailed balanced, integrating political and cultural history with social and economic developments. Spence has streamlined and thoroughly updated the text in light of new scholarship and the major new steps China has taken in the last ten years. The Search for Modern China, Second Edition, features a visually striking art program that includes more than 150 illustrations-many by world-famous photographers-50 maps, and many helpful tables.

Excerpt

The first edition of The Search for Modern China was completed while the Chinese government crackdown against the Tiananmen democracy demonstrators was at its height in June 1989. One can see with hindsight that these events emphasized in my mind the fragility of the individual Chinese voices in their confrontations with the state, and made the chances for constructive change seem elusive. Nine years later, as I complete the second edition, the state of affairs in China and the world is vastly different. Deng Xiaoping, the man held most responsible for the violence of the 1989 repression, died early in 1997; his loyal lieutenant and fellow hard-liner, premier Li Peng, retired from the premiership in early 1998. The Soviet Union has disintegrated into a number of constituent republics, and the member states of its former satellite empire in Eastern Europe have gone their wildly different ways. The most prominent of the 1989 student leaders are now out of prison and living in exile in the United States, as is Wei Jingsheng, the best-known and most tenacious spokesman for the democracy experimenters of 1978.

China's government seems to have made its peace with the ghosts of both movements largely by denying their significance. Moreover, the country as a whole has become absorbed with the challenges, rewards, and ambiguities of domestic economic growth and participation in the international financial scene. These changes in focus have made it hard for human rights activitists—whether indigenous, exiled, or foreign-to keep alive the key issues concerning the Chinese leadership's rejection of representative government and its ongoing harassment of dissidents. And with Hong Kong reintegrated peacefully with China in the summer of 1997, Taiwan now attracts greater attention: China's policies there serve as a . . .

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