Book Review: The Dictator’s Dilemma

Book Review: The Dictator’s DilemmaIn 1993, there were about 8,700 “mass group incidents” in China over a wide variety of grievances ranging from corruption to forced evictions to human rights abuses to ethnic protests to environmental disaster to unpaid wages as well as nationalist protests against foreign countries engineered by the government. In 2015, according to the Chinese Academy…

Book Review: Saving China’s Banking System

Book Review: Saving China’s Banking SystemIn the middle of the first decade of this century, Chinese officials led by then-Prime Minister Zhu Rongji set out to clean up one of the world’s biggest financial messes, the state-run banking system. It is estimated that just the amount poured into the four biggest banks alone was RMB2.4 trillion (US$348.7 billion at current…

Book Review: A Swiss Myth’s Pinoy incarnation

Book Review: A Swiss Myth’s Pinoy incarnationIt is an unfamiliar bond, but the largely hidden one between the Philippines and Switzerland is being celebrated anew. The Philippine national hero paid a compliment to the, albeit mythical, Swiss one. Now the compliment has been returned with a prize-winning novel by a Swiss about the Philippine hero. Jose Rizal is primarily remembered as…

Book Review: Trickle-Down Censorship

Book Review: Trickle-Down CensorshipAs we enter a post-truth world – or so we are told -- there’s probably no better time than to curl up with JFK Miller’s Trickle-Down Censorship: An Outsider’s Account of Working Inside China’s Censorship Regime. It serves well as a timely reminder of the dangers in the other direction – state control of truth…

Book Review: A Great Place to Have a War

Book Review: A Great Place to Have a WarWhen John F. Kennedy won the election to become the 35th President of the United States, he met with his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who repeatedly warned him that the tiny, poverty-stricken country of Laos was the “cork in the bottle. If Laos fell, then Thailand, the Philippines, and of course Chiang Kai-shek [Taiwan] would…

Book Review: Easternisation: War and Peace in the Asian Century

Book Review: Easternisation: War and Peace in the Asian CenturyA few months after Britain announced a US$40 billion nuclear power deal involving China, hailed as giving the UK a special place in its dealings, Beijing is threatening major damage to relations should Britain’s new prime minister Teresa May put the project permanently on hold. After Brexit, the Brits are into another bungled situation.  Then-finance…

Book Review: CEO, CHINA – The Rise of Xi Jinping

Book Review: CEO, CHINA – The Rise of Xi JinpingThis book is a measured analysis of the power matrix that Chinese President Xi Jinping has consolidated as he steers the nation from slowing export-dependent economy to boost domestic consumption and services – while defining a more muscular role for China on the global stage. Author Kerry Brown is Professor of Chinese Studies and Director…

Book Review: Metamorphosis: Studies in Social and Political Change in Myanmar

Book Review: Metamorphosis: Studies in Social and Political Change in MyanmarThe reform process that moved Myanmar toward democracy began in 2008 with the approval of a new Constitution and the subsequent 2010 elections. Though widely considered rigged by observers and boycotted by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), the elections paved the way for a semi-civilian government which took power in 2011,…

The Lie at the Center of the Singapore Legend

The Lie at the Center of the Singapore LegendThe meta-narrative of the founding of modern Singapore is that as a young lawyer and activist Lee Kuan Yew beguiled the Communists into backing the People’s Action Party and once in power turned on them, jailing them after riots in 1955 revealed their true colors, into the process making Singapore a crucial bulwark in Asia…

India-Pakistan Relations: Everything Old is New Again

India-Pakistan Relations: Everything Old is New AgainMidnight’s Furies, Nisid Hajari’s new book about the violent division of the British Raj in India, has garnered much praise for its focus on how the decisions taken by Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Jawaharlal Nehru in the 1946-1948 period embittered India-Pakistan relations right from the very start.  But one of the book’s under-noticed contributions is…
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