In China, it is the central politburo, in Taiwan it is the boardrooms of the companies and government ministries creating the economy. Sep 07, Grady rated it it was amazing. That may serve as a bit of the background to this fascinating, well-constructed, delightfully written by Troy Parfitt: China owns the majority of US Treasury bonds, makes most of the toys and computer parts fund in this country, and has recently surpassed Japan as a major world power financially.
So where does the magical mysticism of the Far East become distilled into reality so that we all have a better idea of the potential of China to be the world leader? While there is little doubt that China's influence on the world is significant, careful examination of the truths by a young writer who has lived in Asia for twelve years Korea and Taiwan and speaks Mandarin fluently, a Canadian man with degrees in American history and Canadian political science, and a certificate to teach English as a second language in Asia, brings home the realities of one who has traveled in China, met with the people, absorbed the history and traditions, and the has taken the time to sort all of this out into a very readable book.
Much of the pleasure of delving into this book is the format in which it is related. Parfitt uses the travelogue approach: Parfitt looks beyond the shining skyscrapers of the new 'Westernized' China and pulls focus to the realities of how China truly looks up close. He shares with the reader that China's great rise as a potential leader of the world is an illusion, that simply because China has imitated the facades of the West, the belief systems are in a disparate state. One of the more interesting aspects Perfitt shares is the Confucian Hierarchy is the chief social structure in Chinese society - a very rigid 'top-down rubric' manner of life that is not compatible with the Western manner of living or functioning.
A bit of definition here: The core of Confucianism is humanism, the belief that human beings are teachable, improvable and perfectible through personal and communal endeavour especially including self-cultivation and self-creation. Confucianism focuses on the cultivation of virtue and maintenance of ethics, the most basic of which are ren, yi, and li. Ren is an obligation of altruism and humaneness for other individuals within a community, yi is the upholding of righteousness and the moral disposition to do good, and li is a system of norms and propriety that determines how a person should properly act within a community.
Confucianism holds that one should give up one's life, if necessary, either passively or actively, for the sake of upholding the cardinal moral values of ren and yi.
Mar 14, Ian added it Shelves: At times it is also laugh-out-loud funny. It is largely a collection of anecdotes describing China as Mr Parfitt saw it, interspersed with an overview of history providing context, and introducing some questions about the future. October 21, at 5: I'm not at all sure that a handful of politicians and scientists, etc.
Confucianism is humanistic and non-theistic, and does not involve a belief in the supernatural or in a personal god. He also discovered that many of the myths about China are fiction and that given the direction of the country at present makes the potential for becoming the ruler of the world highly unlikely. He also points our the human rights abuses, peasant revolts, growing concern over an expanding military, tainted exports, natural disasters, pollution, and the constant friction and unrest in Tibet and Xinjiang - all of which negate many fears that China is set to rule the world.
His commentary on the opium use is an eye-opener, and his relating of the history of Chiang Kai-shek and Chairman Mao Tse-Tung makes for fascinating reading. Parfitt came across a list of items that were not allowed to enter China: There is so much in this book that could be quoted, but one of the aspects few reviewers are touching on is Troy Parfitt's writing skills in painting simply stunning images of the grand scenery and the atmosphere that abounds in this near-indecipherable land.
There are likely to be readers who disagree with Parfitt's findings - and that just makes for al the more reason to read this book for yourselves. It is a different view, a challenging view, a comforting view in some ways, and a bit of a needed does of reality as the globe makes less and less sense daily.
And after reading the book between East and West, perhaps the tile of the review will alter thinking a bit! In , the prediction was Clearly, China is becoming more influential, but is it moving towards a position of global hegemony? Not according to author Troy Parfitt.
It is largely a collection of anecdotes describing China as Mr Parfitt saw it, interspersed with an overview of history providing context, and introducing some questions about the future. But I am troubled by some aspects of the book, and uncomfortable with others. My discomfort is increased by the fact that Mr Parfitt seems to dislike so many aspects of what he sees in China. Does China really need to be more like western nations in order to be successful?
How do we measure success? Success, in this world, is increasingly measured in economic terms. And against many economic measures, China is very successful. Can China rule the world? Does China want to rule the world? What do you think? I was offered, and accepted, a copy of this book for review purposes. Apr 11, Melissa rated it really liked it Shelves: Indeed, it can fit into many genres; travel, history, commentary, etc.
But I do have to say that to me, this book mainly hit in the history realm. But it's not the boring history you learn in high school, this book was written the way history should be taught. It brings in life experiences and neatly ties them together with history of the area or China as a whole. Troy Parfitt, after living and teaching in Taiwan for awhile what he calls one of the two Chinas decides to go undercover as a tourist and experience China and its people and then return to.
Taiwan to do the same there. He travels by several different methods through China's busy streets and visits many places of interest, such as the Terracotta Army. Interspersed with his travels he adds focus to the history or some of the political struggles that China has faced in that area. There he takes the opportunity to compare the two and he does call them the Two Chinas and their people.
In Taiwan there are still history parts mixed in, but he also goes to visit some of the more famous sites, like the Nuclear Power Plant there, to uncover the real truth about its shape. There were a lot of different places that he visited and he didn't shy away from the bigger cities.
There were some predominant themes in the book; being solicited for "massages", seedy hotels, etc. Which is an interesting commentary on Chinese culture itself. One should note that the title of this book, Why China Will Never Rule the World, is a statement that Parfitt uses his travels to try to explain.
With talk of China being the next superpower, he is a bit skeptical at this happening because of the people and their practices. He uses this book to show why he thinks that and also talks to the people themselves to get their thoughts on if they might become the next superpower, or if Mandarin will become a world language.
It is an interesting concept as it goes against the grain of what we've been hearing about China lately. It is easy to see that Parfitt has done his homework for this book. It was chock full of information and had a corresponding bibliography to back it up and it even offers little known information to the more casual reader who has never delved in deep to China or it's history. The writing is largely very good and maintains a steady tone throughout the book.
Even writing about history, Parfitt keeps it interesting with his anecdotes on his travels. That's not to say it doesn't get tedious at times though. Sometimes there was so much information presented that I had to put it down for a little bit and come back so I could keep the facts in my head straight. I was also a bit troubled to see that overall, this book has a more negative tone. I realize China is in the midst of a struggle and finding itself in later years, but I would have liked to see more positive aspects of the life and people there than were in this book.
Still, it was very interesting and overall I liked the book and even think I learned from it. I think this is a great book for anyone planning to travel to China to read or those just interested in its history and people. It does a good job of setting the tone for what to expect when traveling and everyone should know a bit of background about the place they are traveling to.
Well researched and well written, I would probably look into other books by Parfitt. View all 5 comments. Jul 29, William Phenn rated it it was amazing. You will never have to wonder about China and what it is like ever again. Oct 19, Perry rated it it was amazing. Extremely informative and eye opening! Oct 11, Peter Christian rated it really liked it. Fascinating study of China by a Canadian teacher living in Taiwan.
Laden with nuggets, vignettes, lively histories, and sharply rendered, hard-traveled views. May 20, Lee rated it it was ok. The first two trips are to the Chinese mainland, and the third trip is a journey through Taiwan. Throughout these trips, he travels to the Potala Palace in Tibet, the Ice Festival in Harbin and most of the major tourist destinations in between. The book is focused on what he sees and experiences as a tourist, though it is interspersed with large dollop Troy Parfitt's Why China Will Never Rule the World is a travelogue detailing three trips he made during his decade of teaching English in Taiwan.
The book is focused on what he sees and experiences as a tourist, though it is interspersed with large dollops of the history of the places that he is visiting, mostly summarizations of books Parfitt has read. As he hits most of the tourist spots in China, he often complains about the way the Chinese do not look out the window or how they do not read enough.
He laments the constant haranguing he receives as a Western tourist, the "harlo" cat calls and the touts trying to cheat him. For four hundred pages, he piles up these complaints without really making any point. The title suggests that he is going to use his observations to answer questions about China's future role in the world, but, he fails to even begin to answer the question that he sets out to answer. Instead, the reader is left with pages of his anger at the Chinese and little more. Parfitt seems to think that his complaints are enough for evidence that China will never rule the world, though he hardly tries to make that argument.
Parts of Parfitt's book do make for great reading. In general, it is a nice contrast to the encomiums pouring out of publishers with only praise for China.
Parfitt takes on the task of seeing if China is actually all that people make it out to be, and he decides that it fails. At some points, Parfitt's prose is vivid, and his descriptions of the landscapes are compelling. Lines like "unfurled fields of swaying jade adorned with brick homes and formations of karst, the craggy, luxuriant mountains" transport his readers to China. At some points, he is genuinely funny, but sometimes, he tries too hard to be funny.
Parfitt's strongest point comes when he details his discussions with the Chinese people he meets while traveling. These discussions are animated and often say a lot about the country. In one episode, Parfitt meets a woman who teaches Chinese to Korean students. The teacher finds it so strange that her Korean students have so much money compared to the Chinese even though the Koreans, in her words, simply copied Chinese "culture and language.
However, the book's shortcomings dim these strong points so much that they are hard to see. Though this is Parfitt's second book, he is not a good writer. Parfitt's four hundred pages are written more like a book report than an actual book. This bad writing is compounded by the fact that little editing was done. We get to learn what he eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus what he watched on television before bed on most days of his trip.
Why China Will Never Rule the World:Travels in the Two Chinas [Troy Parfitt] on bosol.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. After having lived in Taipei. Why China Will Never Rule the World has 50 ratings and 16 reviews. Pete said: This is an incredibly difficult book to review. On the one hand, it can be.
If he ate something interesting each day, this would not be a problem, but, in most cases, he is simply wasting a page detailing his trip to the local McDonalds. Granted, this is not entirely Parfitt's fault. A good editor would have cut much of this and worked to improve his writing. Furthermore, Parfitt bounces from one topic to the next seemingly at random, starting a paragraph with one topic and, before finishing with that topic, moving on to another.
Parfitt's jumping from one topic to the next makes it difficult to figure out what point he is trying to make, and, for this reason, the book seems ever wandering in search of some new topic, never making a point about the topic it just picked up. Finally, the most problematic part of this book is Parfitt's inability to adapt culturally.
He really seems to despise the Chinese, which is strange considering he spent over a decade living in Taiwan. At one point in the book, he engages in a discussion with students about New Zealand. His students, Parfitt realizes, did not want to visit the country because pictures of New Zealand all showed scenes that were beautiful yet devoid of human beings, something that Parfitt thinks makes it a fantastic destination.
Parfitt fails to adapt to Chinese culture. From what he has written, he seems to hate almost everything about it because it does not align with his value system. Parfitt has missed what makes travel so delicious, being confronted with values and situations that we are not used to and forcing ourselves to adapt to them. He may be right about China not being able to rule the world, or he may be wrong. Reading his book will not answer that question because he is not able to come to terms with the Chinese.
He constantly seems to seek out fights with the Chinese. He never gets beyond the most basic book-learning of Chinese culture, leaving his description of the country and the problems which it is facing and this reviewer agrees with Troy Parfitt - China has many problems flat and of little value to someone wanting to understand China. Anyway, just thought I would pass it along. Ben, thanks for the link to that recommended read I think this book makes the case very well that China has a whole lot of work to do getting its people ready for anything like what is predicted to happen for the country.
They are like sheep and have almost no comprehension of the world as it functions outside their borders. I'm not at all sure that a handful of politicians and scientists, etc. Thanks to Sam for posting that thoughtful review. I actually quote and discuss Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party in my book. As they say in Chinese: Traveling in the Two Chinas.
Parfitt spent ten years teaching English in Taiwan and considers himself a close observer of the Chinese culture and its people. Based upon what he already knew about the country, its people, and its government, Parfitt found it difficult to believe that China was approaching anything near the modern, politically-free state predicted for it.
Curious, he disguised himself as an everyday tourist and spent several weeks traveling the country in search of the truth. Why China Will Never Rule the World is, first and foremost, a well written travelogue filled with stories about the people Parfitt meets along the way and the strange circumstances he so often finds himself in.
Parfitt, who is a great storyteller, uses his anecdotes to individualize the Chinese people he meets and to make points about the culture that produced them. His stories range from heartwarming ones to those certain to appall and sadden the reader, but all of them lead Parfitt to the conclusion that China and its people are far from ready for the role projected for them. Parfitt describes a country filled with pollution, overall squalor, backwardness, and rampant poverty, a country that is not all that different today from what it was two centuries ago.
It is, in a word, backward. Nothing Parfitt describes of his travels would lead one to believe differently. In the end, whether you agree with Parfitt, or not, this one will make you think.