China in Search of Its Future: Years of Great Reform, 1982-87

John Woodruff, Author University of Washington Press $30 (218p) ISBN 978-0-295-96803-2
Woodruff proposes that the modernizing reforms of the Deng Xiaoping era have a greater chance of enduring than Mao's revolutionary program, basing this belief on his observations as the Baltimore Sun 's Beijing bureau chief from 1982 to 1987. Combining travelogue and sociopolitical analysis, this excellent journalistic account belies the notion that China is plunging headlong toward Western-style capitalism. Chinese society is ``still far more closed than open,'' with central planners and bureaucrats reasserting state control over many activities by early 1989, where the narrative ends with an epilogue. But Woodruff also observed widespread improvements in daily life. In lively chapters he meets farmers and villagers, endures traffic jams, watches student protests, attends a ``healthy collective dance party,'' scans the pop music scene and visits a semi-clandestine ``house church'' where a Chinese Baptist preacher holds forth in defiance of the authorities. Assessing women's status in contemporary China, the author finds a prevalence of deeply ingrained sexist attitudes. Photos. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1989
Release date: 04/01/1989
Paperback - 308 pages - 978-0-8184-0524-2
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