(EBOOK) [The Party] author Richard McGregor
This book flirted with 3 stars but finally ot a 4 It s overrated in my opinion butThe author has Who Is Muhammad Ali? great difficulty though he is obviously well informed about the facts on theround in understanding and contextualizing the soft authoritarianism that is China today This is proof which one finds often in many walks of life that those who know the most don t always understand the best My own experience in my own field has Don't Worry, Eat Cake: A Coloring Book to Help You Feel a Little Bit Better about Everything given me MANY examples of this to be sureI have already explained in my status updates the kind of error this leads him to That China is corrupt dirty large and unwieldy that the Party pulls the strings as best it can etc does not make comparisons with the Stalinist purges apt that it is not forthcoming about SARS is hardly startlingiven Japan s handling of Fukushima and cf and the West s handling of Assange etc But the problem here oes deeper I believeIt seems to me that MacGregor started out with one thesis and then to his own dismay ended up with a very different thesis Apparently he had wanted to reveal the dirty secret that China is not in fact a liberal utopia and so plays up and indeed with a touch of melodrama the flaws in Chinese overnance the Party influence on SEO s etc none of which in fact is in the least remarkable or unknown And in order to do so he spends many long pages narrating anecdotes which do not uite rise to the emotional temperature he had hoped to reach As such the book is sometimes simply boring and predictable and can be easily scannedBut then finally he comes to an Afterword and acknowledges that for all the imperfections the system actually seems to be working pretty well that for all the Atrophy there is indeed a lot of Adaptation and flexibility as well and that as David Shaumbaugh argued the adapation seems to be winning out He also points out how people have been predicting the implosion of China for 20 years and how surprisingly and to the dismay of many in the West uoting from memory here they keep etting proven wrongEven apart from the bears like Pettis et al who are well known I have a colleague who is connected with a well known writer on China among other things and who was telling me with a certainty that China would soon fragment back in 1993 and 1994 So I know this type uite well When I raised the point a year or two ago they nodded knowingly and assured me that their prediction wasn t wrong because it hasn t come true yet HmmmmIn fact the Afterword is a very ood brief 10 pages maybe summation of the TRUE state of affairs and if MacGregor had started composing this book AFTER he had come to his conclusions rather than arriving at it in contradiction to the apparent aim and direction of his narrative simply because he had to admit to himself that his narrative had failed that is rather than thinking with the pen this would have been a far useful book At any rate the Afterword A Secret Kept got him an extra starOn the other hand maybe he and his editors simply felt that the negative thesis would sell books than would a sober balanced non apocalyptic assessment which btw his journalist s brief couldn t really have pulled off for 300 pages in which case fuck him 3 stars If this book had been written just a little better I dive it 5 stars The information presented is nothing but enthralling to a China outsider The organization of the sections deftly enhances the content In about 200 pages McGregor successfully manages to ive you a comprehensive intuition for how The Party operates even if you have no prior knowledge of China That s a towering achievementThe language on the other hand leaves much to be desired IT S YOUR TYPICAL FOUND ON s your typical found on doormat every morning dry journalistic prose a style which seems to reuire 1 repeating things often 2 providing a mini summary before launching into the details of an anecdote and then 3 immediately following up with the obligatory but completely unnecessary summary once again of the same anecdote even
it s still fresh in your mind unless you happen to have the memory capacity of a jellyfishThe book starts off slow but hits its stride in the third chapter and roars onwards from there on leaving you sleepless and eager to see the complete picture of the innards of the thing most aptly described as the organism that controls one uarter of the world s population The anecdotes handpicked by McGregor range from internationally notorious scandals such as the Sanlu Milk tragedy to war stories of lesser known crusades against the Party by suppressed journalists from within With each anecdote McGregor reveals a side of The Party these include organization propaganda army economy federal provincial relations anti raft campaigns and other smaller ones and how it exercises control over said side Take the Sanlu Milk scandal The infant poisoning incidents first came to the notice of the Sanlu board of the company right before the start of the Olympics a momentous occasion for the nation and The Party At the time local state officials as well as the leaders of state owned enterprises including Sanlu had been instructed very clearly by the Propaganda department in Beijing to specifically avoid any press mentions of food related issues And therein arises the cruel catch 22 for local officials and the executives of Sanlu On orders from Propaganda in Beijing they were left with no choice but to cover up the incidents and silence through pay offs the parents of the affected infants When the scandal was eventually uncovered post Olympics by Beijing it reprimanded the local officials heavily and put many of the executives behind bars for life demonstrating to the international community that it took its food safety measures seriouslyPerhaps the biggest realization for me fret not this isn t a spoiler was that a communist overnment does not necessarily do better at long term planning than its democratic counterpart I d always thought the converse was true Singapore for instance can clearly take certain hard line actions only because its ruling party never has to worry about etting re elected However in China this is certainly not the case The Party is a massive beast that s in constant threat of exploding from the inside due to the insatiable hunger and The Ancient Greeks: Ten Ways They Shaped the Modern World greed of its own officials Here s an astonishing nugget If you take yearly GDP numbers reported by each province and sum them up you ll end with a result significantly higher than the GDP number reported by the central authorities Why Because there s a very strong incentive for provincial party bosses to do better than their neighbors so they can move up the power structure of The Party andovernment The reason The Party has succeeded in the massive economic transformation of the last 30 odd years emerges from "studying the affects of this intense competition among party men and state officials it s not the self less "the affects of this intense competition among party men and state officials it s not the self less of Tricycle (HISTOIRE) greed and self sacrificing noble actions of individuals that have paved way for areater collective but precisely the opposite it s the effective harnessing by The Party of the lust for power and money among officials that has bred a competitive albeit short term focused system that pushes itself forward at a tremendous pace That s what scientific communism is not uite communism at allThe sociopolitical problems that plague China and the United States are so similar in many ways and thi. China's secret rulers are the largest political organisation in the world But who are they and.While It S Still
Richard McGregor Ò 7 Free readIsm 101 Our instructor Lawrence Gu had just become dean of Canada s first Confucius Institute a partnership between BCIT and the Chinese overnment There are now than three hundred Confucius Institutes around the world mostly offering Mandarin classes BCIT Gu enthused was the first to offer a practical business courseOur first lesson was on China s overnance It s the most sophisticated structure in the world Gu said It looks familiar but it isn t He distributed four handouts Stapled on top was one simply titled Party It was an China is a popular and complicated subject these days To make it simple yet concise as possibleAlmost every thing about China for the last 60 or so years is about the Communist Party of China its centrality and primacy can be seen in its society culture politics media corruption etc The Party takes precedence before anything maybe even before China itself Its presence can be uite literally be felt by a person from the womb to the Let Freedom Reign': The Words of Nelson Mandela. Henry Russell grave It is a totalitarian yet adaptive system riding on the wave of prosperity it helped engender by almost completely repudiating everything Marxist and Maoist it once espoused An up to date and fascinating insight into the party s inner workings McGregor explains the byzantine nature of the Party s bureaucracy to minute details and unmasks the far reachingrasps of the Party s tentacles What I find hard to believe is how the Party s organizational department controls nearly the entire Chinese elite including those in the private sector and leadership Richard McGregor s The Party offers us a well balanced thought provoking insight into the machinations of the Chinese Communist Party and Paper Crafts Magazine: Joy of Card Making (Leisure Arts generally into how China functions Many Western commentators bray constantly about the imminent and inevitable collapse of the political system in China According to them the liberalization of the economic system and adoption of the free market in which individual decisions about what to buy and what to sell hold sway will inevitably undermine the autocracy of a political system where individual rights do not exist In his masterful book East West Chris Patten tells us that this contradiction cannot exist in the long term A breaking point is inevitable and when it comes the Party will collapseMacGregor however uestions this premise Plenty of predicted breaking points have presented themselves and yet the Party continues to hold the reins of power If nothing else this has demonstrated its astonishing adaptability As such those who say history ended when the Cold War was won with the defeat of a society based on a politically authoritarian and centralized economic model by a politically democratic free market society may have rushed to judgement For the resilience of the Communist Party in China potentially offers a third way of politically tight control coupled with relaxed control on economic matters This was Deng Xiaoping s answer following events of June 1989 To this day it continues MacGregor further points out that rather than succumbing to the challenges of joining the WTO and thelobal financial crisis some may say that the Deng s formula has seen China come off better than its Western counterparts The ability of the Party through the control it can still exert over the Chinese banks which had been transformed from state owned monoliths into IPO d companies whose shares were hoovered up to uickly ensure money was pumped into the economy stood in stark contrast to the US and Europe where uantitative easing was debated until the cows came home and still is The message from China s conseuent economic uptick was look how better we are than you are It also cemented the continued legitimacy of the PartyMy particular favourite chapter in this book is that on the sinister Path to Sanity: Lessons from Ancient Holy Counselors on How to Have A Sound Mind grey anonymous and yet ultimately powerful Central Organization Department which MacGregor describes as the Party s HR department The Organization Department according to MacGregor vets and controls an astonishing range of appointments so vital to the Party s continued exertion of power and control I couldn t help but be amused and astonished by this description as it seems to fit the way an HR department works in any large multinational company albeit in China plc you can multiply the appointments it has to oversee by tenMake no mistake however This book is certainly not an advert for China s system ofovernment MacGregor points out that corruption in China remains deep The rights of those who uestion the system are ultimately suppressed if they cannot be shut up by co option But what MacGregor s books Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus gives us is a different insight to the Party one which does not judge itsoodness or badness but seeks to bring to our attention the fact that it has proven to be far adaptable to meet the continuing challenges presented to its existence than we can imagine Protests are met with the strategy of pay off first and only if that does not work will they be stamped on Propaganda which failed in the SARs crisis has since borrowed from the Blair Rudram in Tamil government s handling of the mad cow disease crisis to correct things In its adaptability the Party has so far found the key to its survival and through the continued deliverance of an economic miracle even in the midst of the financial crisis its strengthening It is in short notoing anywhere And as China continues its advance to world superpowerdom we would all do well to take that lesson on boardPeter Gregoire author of Article 109 The Party turns both commonly misunderstood analyses of China on their head namely that China has a wholesale embrace of unrestrained capitalism and the unobservant one that China is still communistThe Party s central thesis is that in the words of one Beijing University professor The Party is like God He is everywhere you just can t see himWhat follows is a series of detailed accounts of how the party is at the heart of all the instruments of state the economy the media and the militaryChapters 1 2 3 and 6 are in many ways rather similar detailing the party s involvement in the economy in both state and private enterprise and how the demarcation between the state and private sector are increasingly blurredToward the end of the book reater Insight Is Shown Into is shown into high profile corruption cases such as the Sanlu baby milk poisoning scandal and the initial attempt to cover it upPerhaps little new is offered in the chapter concerning corruption an issue highly familiar to many China hands but the most insightful chapter for myself was Chapter 4 Why we fight The Party and the GunHere is examined one of the most curious aspects "of modern China and indeed the modern world a national military the world s largest by standing troop "modern China and indeed the modern world a national military the world s largest by standing troop who s first loyalty is to the party as opposed to most other armies who s first loyalty is to the state and constitution The workings of the subordination of the military to the party are iven better examination than this reader has hitherto encountered and chapter 4 is a chapter worthy of disciplined re readingThe final chapter on the Party and their official rendering of history and control of the national media may be familiar to experienced China hand s but nonetheless new insights are containedOn the whole The Party is a highly readable and detailed examination of China s system and essential reading for new and old China hands alik. And he has used all of his experience to uncover the true story of the Chinese Communist Part. ,
S is something that I really shouldn t be surprised about but I did hold a rather naive view that human nature might be slightly different depending on cultural circumstances perhaps a victim myself of the boisterous Chinese self posturing international propaganda The age old conflicts between public ser This fellow knows his China and has known it with an All Access pass for decades Well as much access as a non member can have Plus he has callouses on his feet from trying to walk into rough patches barefoot Some of the things he asked to fairly senior Party members would be cringe worthy if they weren t so KaBOOM!: One Entrepreneur's Quest to Build Community SAVE PLAY! gutsy and asked so ingenuously Add in the asides he records from trusting low level functionaries whom McGregor actually names and the verified tastyossip from business people bankers and executives and you eventually realize that the author has had a deep and wide view of how the CCP works for so long that his assessment has become intuitive like a musician being able to play what he hears He s also smart enough to know this only means he knows where the moving target was but he ives a ood description of the Wendigo sighted in the woods at midnight Nobody knows where it is now or what fur it s wearing but McGregor sure ot a ood Who on God's Earth do you 'think' you are?: A true story about TRANSCENDING the ILLUSION of SEPARATION glimpse of the beast for a moment or two The book is well paced and intrinsically fascinating whether you are into reading about China or not This can serve as additional info for the China hand a primer for the beginner or aood intro for the China eneralist looking to add political cred to her vision I m almost done with the book and see no flaws of importance so I ive it five stars The only people who know actual Party members don t write books that I can read or have access to For weiguoren foreigners the most difficult thing to understand about the Chinese system is the position of the Chinese Communist Party in it As in the old Soviet Union the Party acts as a strange parallel state wielding all the real power in Mesagerul government but only from behind the official legal screens of ministries and bureaus In China this strangeness is amplified because the Party which is supposed to be the keeper of the unified ideological line is ruling a country that is becoming shamelessly capitalist Richard McGregor uncovers these contradictions and highlights them He does a wonderful investigative job finding out how exactly the Party rules the world s largest nationFor instance in the 50 largest corporations in China the CEO s most important relationship isn t with his or her stockholders or board members or workers but with the Party The CEO is therefore not angry but thrilled to beranted a red machine the big red phone placed on the desks of top CEOs that Judy Blume: Fearless Storyteller for Teens gives the Party direct access to him or her The most important function of the Party in these companies as in theovernment itself is to distribute positions The Party s massive Central Organization Department operating as much of the Party out of an unmarked buildings in Beijing and the provinces judges ideological vigour and places people where they will ensure Party control and flows of funds The top CEOs also are expected to form Communist Party cells in their company and to chair those cells and organize Party work and recruitment inside the company and in supposedly independent business organizations or labor unions The red machine at a company is therefore a means to tell company leaders who to hire but it also ensures overnment favors and contracts and bank loans to the company It s a trade the CEOs are willing to make In one infamous example the Party told the CEOs of the top 3 telecom companies to switch places because they worried about independent power bases forming in the companies outside the Party s controlThe #Party Thus Works On #thus works on 80 or so million members by both making demands and iving rewards Party members have to toe the Party line on ideology and policy attend one of about 2700 Party educational schools for special classes and What Am I Doing with My Life?: And other late night internet searches answered by the great philosophers give up some perks such as for CEOs options in the companies thatet partially privatized but they also Jimmy: The Terrorist get ensured advancement and contracts and networks In the case of a potential crime the Party member is tried by the Party and not the regular judicial system but a Party member is also subject to random investigative detention and uestioning not used for most citizens Like in the old Soviet Union the Party has a secret nomenklatura list of positions throughoutovernment and society that it controls In the early 1990s it added the head of universities and journalists organization to the list after concerns about too much independent thinking and reporting The nomenklatura system also determines which sections of the How to Live the James Bond Lifestyle: The Complete Seminar government and the economy thrive and move upwards The Party constantly harps on the unity of the Party and the People s Liberation Army PLA but hasn t appointed a military man to all powerful Politburo Standing Committee since 1992 it used to be than half demonstrating that it wants to keep the military firmly under the Party s control The Party s obsession with control is always in evidence in this book The Party is terrified of direct sales organizations like Amway and Avon because they organizeroups and sellers outside of the Party The Party s Propaganda Department makes official ideological statements on all of Chinese history recently deciding to extend the Party s own history back to 1840 to better capture anti foreigner campaigns then and history back to 1840 to better capture anti foreigner campaigns then and all reporters and historians to abide by such statements such as the idea that Mao Zedong was exactly 70% More scary stories for sleep-overs good and 30% bad The Party is infinitely open than it used to be an ideologically dangerous book today won t be published or reviewed but the author will rarely be jailed or even hurt but it still fears the dangers of another Tiananmen Suare and organizes constantly to prevent it This book finally brings the Party s fears and powers to light and leaves the reader in awe of the Party s secretive influence a similar department in the US would oversee the appointment of the entire US cabinet stateovernors and their deputies the mayors of major cities the heads of all federal agencies the CEO of GE ExxonMobil Wal Mart and about fifty of the remaining largest US companies the justices on the Supreme Court the editors of the New York Times the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post the bosses of the TV networks and cable stations the presidents of Yale and Harvard and other big universities and the heads of think tanks like the Brookings Institute and the Heritage Foundation Not only that the vetting process would take place behind closed doors and the "APPOINTMENTS ANNOUNCED WITHOUT AN ACCOMPANYING EXPLANATION "announced without an accompanying explanation they had been madeMcGregor admits such analogies with the US are over simplifications and in fairness to him uses them sparingly However the book could have done with of them For non Chinese understanding the dynamics of Chinese politic The beast that is China s ruling partyThis review of The Party The Secret World of China s Communist Rulers by Richard McGregor was originally published in the Vancouver Sun on August 14 2010 and on my blog at the spring of 2006 I enrolled in a curious course at the BC Institute of Technology in Vancouver It was called the Fundamentals of Doing Business with China but it turn out to be like Lenin. How do they operate Richard McGregor has spent 20 years reporting on this region of the world.