This story of business in China starts, alarmingly, with a hostage-taking over a commercial dispute. But rather than launching into a tale of business noir, the author admits that, well, the hostage-taker had a point: he had not in fact been paid.
We think we know the history of China’s opening to the outside world. Maoist China was closed off, until Deng Xiaoping decided to reform the economy and open up to international trade, leading to the economic powerhouse we see today.
The question of how a state committed to Communism became the world’s biggest trading nation in markets dominated largely by capitalist countries, controlling industries and setting prices, has long been puzzling. Author Jason M Kelly, in Market Maoists, provides a sober, detailed account of the way modern China came to see that global trade could be a way to “fortify socialism … rather than degrade it.”
Made in Hong Kong seeks to reframe the city’s role in the modern history of US foreign policy and globalization by focusing on a group of “mobile, pragmatic, and adaptive” Chinese elites author Peter E Hamilton calls kuashang, or “straddling merchants”. An academic study of families whose profitable relationships straddled the US, colonial Hong Kong and China, the book provides another perspective on how this small, crowded city’s economy grew so strong so fast in the decades before the handover.
Can corporate history be art? This question can only be asked if one is not familiar with the fascinating long-term project by the Chinese artist Xiaowen Zhu. Anyone who has experienced Oriental Silk will answer this question with a clear “yes.”
Enter the Wu-Tang. Return to the 36 Chambers. People listening to these albums by the Wu-Tang Clan and its members likely never knew about Sophia Chang: a Korean-Canadian woman who worked with members like RZA, ODB and Method Man. Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest called Sophia Chang “an integral part of the golden era of hip-hop”.
If there were an award for the best book title, Blockchain Chicken Farm would surely be in running for 2020. Xiaowei Wang leads off this collection of connected essays about technology and society with a story about how the blockchain has been deployed in China’s rural organic chicken farms to provide untamperable provenance for China’s upscale consumers.