Understanding China

John Bryan Starr, Author
John Bryan Starr, Author Hill & Wang $25 (338p) ISBN 978-0-8090-9488-2
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-8090-9489-9
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With a thorough examination of China's inadequate infrastructure, Starr (Continuing the Revolution) casts doubt on widespread opinions forecasting that the country will be the world's dominant military and economic superpower in the 21st century. ""Unless it changes significantly,"" he writes, ""the system lacks the capacity to address and resolve the many serious problems it now confronts."" This book grew out of a seminar Starr taught at Yale University, and it reads like a college text. He makes an impressive case for his bleak outlook, and as a China specialist, he misses little--environmental degradation, overpopulation, rural discontent, Taiwan democratization, regionalism, the armed forces, foreign relations and other topics. But he is short on anecdotes that would keep the reader from nodding off like a student in an intro lecture course. When Starr does make a prediction, he usually plays it safe with a qualifying probably or maybe, making at times for leaden commentary. As a general overview of China entering the post-Deng era with the takeover of Hong Kong and growing foreign investment, this is a scholarly, well-researched treatise. As a mass market tract on an already highly analyzed subject, it is not very stimulating. (Sept.)
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