Kerry Brown has earned a reputation as one of the most prolific and yet reasonable commentators on China. In The Future of UK-China Relations, he turns his eye on his home country.
In 2006, the New York Times columnist Tom Friedman penned a now-notorious column titled “The Taxi Driver”. In it, Friedman recounts a cab ride from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport in which, to Friedman’s disappointment, the driver neglects to engage in conversation with his eminent passenger.
Bertil Lintner, in his enlightening new book The Costliest Pearl, describes today’s struggle for supremacy in the Indian Ocean as a new Great Game, or alternatively, a new Cold War. The major contestants are China, the United States and India, but subsidiary powers such as Australia, France, and Japan are also involved.
The Chinese diaspora, and the diasporic experience, is typically covered country-by-country or perhaps region-by-region, the geography usually determined by what is relevant to a particular group of readers. The narratives of the Chinese in, say, California and London are usually treated separately.
Hong Kong is a surprisingly green place: the skyscrapers that form the stunning cityscapes that are the territory’s most common and iconic images hug the coast. Some three-quarters of Hong Kong is in varying degree countryside and 40 percent set aside as parkland.
How is China organized politically? What are the issues that young people face in today’s China? What is China doing about its problem with pollution? Is the Chinese internet like our internet? What’s China’s role in the world today? And how much do you know about China’s great woman emperor or the Chinese explorer whose voyages may have inspired the legend of Sinbad the Sailor? What are the major Chinese holidays, their superstitions regarding numbers, and the true nature of the Chinese written language?
Before I read this wonderfully quirky book of stories, I had never given much thought to such things as trainer bras or lucky dry fruit, both of which feature in two of May-Lee Chai’s stories about Chinese immigrants and their reactions to their experiences in new countries.