"China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know" by Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom (2010)
"There are many factors that make it extremely unlikely that the PRC with use military force to try to achieve the long-held goal of "reunification," which remains a stated desire of both the CCP and the Nationalist Party but is not even an aim of the organizations with which the latter now has to share power in Taiwan. The CCP still clings to the idea that there is only "one China" (a notion that the political separation of Taiwan from the Mainland is a temporary aberration rather than a permanent state of affairs), but it is hard to see how it would end up acting to change reunification from a far-off dream to an immediate reality."
Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom is a Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine. He has written several books on the subject of modern China.
And if any book ever struck me as an impulse buy from someone's trip through an airport, this book is it. I can just see a man or women on their way to China for the first time, purchasing this in one of those tiny bookshops on the way to a departure gate. "It's really happening!" I can imagine them thinking, "I'm going to China! I need a book to help me get ready!"
Which is fine, I suppose. You've got to start somewhere, and China in the 21st Century is a decent place to start. Although it's more of a series of questions and answers than an actual book, with its goal being an enhanced understanding of US-China relations. It definitely completes the task it sets out for itself, and for this reason I would recommend it.
My only complaint is that the author occasionally uses some strange sentence structures. There were a couple places where I expected a sentence to continue on, but no, it just stopped where it was, dead in its tracks. This is, I suppose, another way of saying that the author's prose doesn't quite flow as well as it could, and that some of his word choices are questionable. This awkwardness of language doesn't occur often, but in a book this short it's very noticeable.
Just the same, if you're on your way to China for the first time I suggest picking this one up. I'm sure you'll see it in one of those bookshops, somewhere between here, there and Beijing.
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