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Knowing China
A Twenty-First Century Guide


  • Date Published: July 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107587618

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About the Authors
  • Contemporary China appears both deceptively familiar and inexplicably different. China is a cauldron of forms of entrepreneurship, social organization, ways of life and governance that are at once new and unique, recognizably Chinese and generically modern. In analyzing and interpreting these developments, Frank N. Pieke adopts a China-centric perspective to move beyond western preoccupations, desires, or fears. Each chapter starts with a key question about China, showing that such questions and assumptions are often based on a misunderstanding or misconstruction of what China is today. Pieke explores twenty-first-century China as a unique kind of neo-socialist society, combining features of state socialism, neoliberal governance, capitalism and rapid globalization. Understanding this society not only helps us to know China better, but takes us beyond the old dichotomies of West versus East, developed versus developing, tradition versus modernity, democracy versus dictatorship, and capitalism versus socialism.

    • A fresh, clear and critical argument on the significance of China in the world today
    • Adopts a new China-centric perspective that moves beyond received opinion
    • Explores connections between developments in the society, politics, and economy of contemporary China
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'In an extraordinary double act, Frank Pieke reaches out to the China non-specialist and specialist alike. He provides the former with the most digestible account to date of China's unconventional ascendancy and forces China experts out of their academic enclaves into public world debate. His concept of neo-socialism makes sense of China's intriguing socio-cultural and politico-economic twists and turns that draw on its civilized past and aspirations and defy conventional Western analytical categories.' David Parkin, All Souls College, Univeristy of Oxford

    'Engagingly written, the work reflects an impressive knowledge and understanding of contemporary China … Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.' J. A. Rhodes, Choice

    'Pieke's argument draws on an understanding of China's premodern culture, with the 'mandate of heaven' - a kind of legitimacy gained by virtue of rulers' ability to create prosperity - now in the hands of the CCP. He paints a fascinating, counterintuitive picture of the CCP as a quasi-theological institution, and certainly one that has no intention of using the tactics familiar to liberal societies to reform.' Project Syndicate (

    'I find this book very interesting and well written. Its innovative concept of neo-socialism is very useful to capture the distinctiveness of contemporary China, which consists of an uneasy combination of different contradictory elements that defies any easy characterization. In addition, this book is very informative because Pieke has done an excellent job in synthesizing the findings in Chinese studies to answer such research questions as: why the communist party will not fall from power, why Chine's economy will continue to grow, but not forever, and why Chinese people have freedom without universal human rights. This, both general readers and area specialists will find this book indispensable for their in-depth understanding of contemporary China.' Alvin Y. So, Pacific Affairs

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107587618
    • length: 234 pages
    • dimensions: 231 x 153 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.34kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: knowing China
    2. Why the Communist Party will not fall from power
    3. China's economy will continue to grow, but not forever
    4. Freedom without universal human rights
    5. From empire to nation, or why Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang will not be independent
    6. Not just a Chinese century
    7. Conclusion: the Communist Party and China's future

  • Author

    Frank N. Pieke, Universiteit Leiden
    Frank Pieke studied cultural anthropology at the University of Amsterdam and the University of California, Berkeley. After lectureships at Universiteit Leiden and the University of Oxford, he was appointed Chair Professor in Modern China Studies at Universiteit Leiden in 2010. Pieke's current research revolves around foreign migration to China and the changing role of the Chinese Communist Party. His books include The Good Communist: Elite Training and State Building in Today's China (2009) and Transnational Chinese: Fujianese Migrants in Europe (2004).

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