"The Coming Collapse of China" reread

Sunday, August 28 2005 @ 09:43 AM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto

Authored: Gordon G. Chang
Published: Random House Inc., 2001

This is to follow up the TokyoFreePress's first book review
which dealt with Gordon G. Chang's "The Coming Collapse of China."

This book has stirred up a lot of controversy in the sense that reviews by readers and editors have been widely divided between the 5-star rating and the single-star grade, both at home and in the other part of the world. Very few people have rated it as an unimpressive 3-star reading.

Those who rated the book below 3-stars said the Gordon G. Chang's scenario was just inconceivable, or totally unrealistic.

One of these negative reviewers sarcastically said, "Doom and gloom [always] sell," referring to those book titles such as "The Coming Great Crash in The Stock Market", "The Coming Crash in The Housing Market", "Patriots: Surviving The Coming Crash", "Y2K", etc.

That may be true. But it's even truer that books written by those who are good at changing their views back and forth between a wishful thinking ("It would turn out that way because it should,") and Monday morning quarterbacking ("It had to turn out this way because of an unpredictable factor,") often sell like tickets to the Superbowl. Everywhere in the world, readers always want to feel relieved more than be challenged by an author, as if life filled with predictables isn't just boring.

Unfortunately for readers who found the Chang's crystalball implausible, though, that so many people have so much at stake in China does not necessarily mean the state-of-the-art life support system will function forever, because what looks to be the most-likely-case scenario - the wishful thinking that the current communist regime is as sustainable as a sound going concern - is none other than the worst-case scenario for hundreds of millions of Chinese who remain below the poverty line.

On August 22 a China Daily article titled "Income gap critical by 2010, experts warn" reported that the China's Ministry of Labour and Social Security had admitted, with an unprecedented candor, that the nation will face a "red-light scenario" toward the year 2010 unless a drastic countermeasure is taken in the next few years.

On the other hand we now know the Chinese leadership has almost exhausted every conceivable piecemeal measure to fix the problems that Gordon G. Chang identified for them.

Worse, widening income gap is only part of the problems facing China.

In all likelihood, therefore, the Chang's scenario seems to be coming true, whether you like it or not.

This book has been read by a great number of Japanese, too, in Japanese translation.

The customer review pages of online bookstores based in Japan indicate the average rating is much higher than in the other part of the world although we see a similar polarization between two extremes, i.e., 1-star and 5-stars.

Unfortunately, though, most of those Japanese readers, who have given this book a favorable review that it more than deserves, have overlooked one important point: If and when the Chang's scenario materializes, Japan is likely to go belly up (see Note below), too, no matter how the scenario of chain reaction may look as unrealistic as the Chang's scenario did four years ago.

Note: A Japanese reviewer of this book says in his post on Amazon.co.jp that Gordon G. Chang should have been more specific about what exactly about the three-millennium-old nation is heading for its tumble. I think it's somewhat self-explanatory. But I would define the possible collapse of Japan as a total disintegration of the 1955 System coupled with the imperial institution and Nihon Kisha Kurabu (The Japan National Press Club) system. BTW: The JNPC is an extremely shady organization that doesn't own its official website on which to disclose who they really are, what exactly they are up to, whom they owe what, etc.

As I have already warned before (see April 16 TFP story titled "Japan has no future if it keeps putting all the eggs in one basket",) government and business leaders of Japan have failed to implement any effective measure to ease the nation's overdependency on China. Simply, it runs counter to the basics of risk management.

Now that even the China's leadership cannot but concede the basket already has a big hole in it, it's obvious the addiction (I mean it literally) to the big brother is taking its toll on the Japan's destiny in the not-too-distant future.

And Japan is currently so preoccupied with its astronomical budget deficits eating into the government's balance sheet, that it is unable to extend a helping hand to fix the basket being held by the sick giant faltering on the other side of the East China Sea.

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