The cover story in this month’s National Geographic is about China. The article, titled "Inside the Dragon" was written by Peter Hessler, one of my favorite writers about China. He always seems to be writing the articles and books that I wish I were writing! Here’s a teaser:
Perhaps this awareness of a painful history was also why the 1990s
turned out differently. It became modern China’s first decade without a
major upheaval, and thus far the 21st century has also been peaceful.
And yet despite the lack of political change, the nation has been
radically transformed. For three decades the economy has grown at an
average annual rate of nearly 10 percent, and more people have been
lifted out of poverty than in any other country, at any other time.
China has become home to the largest urbanization in human history—an
estimated 150 million people have left the countryside, mostly to work
in the factory towns of the coast. By most measures the nation is now
the world’s largest consumer, using more grain, meat, coal, and steel
than the United States. But apart from Deng Xiaoping, it’s difficult to
credit these critical changes to any specific government official. The
Communist Party’s main strategy has been to unleash the energy of the
people, at least in the economic sense. In today’s China, government is
decentralized, and people can freely start businesses, find new jobs,
move to new homes. After a century of powerful leaders and political
turmoil, Chinese history has become the story of average citizens.
The two books by Hessler that are must-reads:
Rivertown: Two Years on the Yangtze
Oracle Bones: A Journey Through Time in China