Jeff Wasserstrom considers three tumultuous years in ever-changing ChinaHistorians in the News
tags: interviews, Jeffrey Wasserstrom, China, Asia Society
This month Asia Society Associate Fellow Jeffrey Wasserstrom, China expert and Professor of History at the University of California-Irvine, is coming out with an updated version of his book China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press), originally published in 2010. Since three years is a long time in rapidly changing China, we were curious to know what changes he made to the text to make it as relevant as possible for today's readers.
Since the writing of your book China has gone through one of its ten-year leadership changes with the entrance of the Xi Jinping administration. What did you feel people needed to know about a new government that has declared its focus to be fulfilling the "Chinese Dream?"
When I began the updating process with Maura Elizabeth Cunningham, who joined me as a contributing author on the second edition, we knew that this transition, long in the works, was something we would need to address. In the end, though, we saw more continuity than change in the hand-over of power from Hu Jintao to Xi. His actual taking charge was singularly anti-climactic after the dramatic rise and then rapid fall from grace of Bo Xilai, a series of events that we treat in some detail. And while his "Chinese Dream" slogan may be new, many other things he's done, such as calling for a curtailing of corruption, give us a strong sense of deja vu, as they parallel things Hu said and did right after he took over back in 2002....