The China Boom: Why China Will Not Rule the World

Ho-fung Hung. Columbia, $35 (256p) ISBN 978-0-231-16418-4
In this challenging but informative study, Hung, a sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University, traces the formation of the modern Chinese economy and, per the title, sheds doubt on notions of China's rising dominance. In light of the country's recent stock market crash, this timely work provides valuable insights into the development of its economy, though these may be too scholarly for a non-academic audience. The opening sections about China's history of commerce will be fascinating and accessible even for casual lay readers. Hung describes how an influx of American silver in the 18th century created the first commercial boom, albeit without triggering capitalism and industrialization. This was followed by a period of economic deterioration and "agricultural involution" in the 19th century. Hung goes onto the early 20th-century era of competing warlords, and through the Mao period up to modern-day China's capitalist boom, which continued almost unaffected through the 2008 recession. As Hung enters the body of his analysis, the writing becomes more academic and potentially inaccessible for non-specialists. Nonetheless, his research is compelling and paints a convincing picture that China may not be the superpower many predicted it to be. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/2015
Release date: 11/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 978-0-231-54022-3
Paperback - 264 pages - 978-0-231-16419-1
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