CHINA DAWN: The Story of a Technology and Business Revolution

David Sheff, Author . HarperBusiness $26.95 (320p) ISBN 0-06-000599-8

The Internet poses an acute dilemma for China's leadership: it's necessary for economic growth, but a threat to traditional power structures. Journalist Sheff (Game Over) chronicles the successes and failures of a loose coalition of Chinese-American technology entrepreneurs from California, academic scientists on the Mainland and progressive Chinese government officials who are battling to modernize China's communications network. In particular, the book follows Bo Feng, one of China's premier venture capitalists, and Edward Tian, the founder of AsiaInfo, China's first Internet infrastructure company, as they try to raise capital in the U.S. and persuade government officials in China to support them. Sheff smartly juxtaposes their story with detailed descriptions of the effect of the Internet on Mainland life, including its pivotal role in shaping Chinese public opinion about the U.S. Although outsiders assume the Chinese government orchestrates public reactions, Sheff convincingly argues that the populace, thanks to the Internet, now leads its leaders, despite government censorship and direct harassment of Internet users. In one recent dramatic case, online discussions forced the government into an unprecedented apology and admission of cover-up in an elementary school explosion that killed 42 children and teachers. Sheff's fast-paced narrative provides an inside view of a potent factor in China's political evolution, one that is underestimated and misunderstood by many. (Mar. 1)

Forecast:Sheff's well-written treatise may fall between the cracks, since it's neither a "get rich quick on the Internet" manual nor a general account of contemporary Chinese affairs.

Reviewed on: 02/04/2002
Release date: 03/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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