Sunday, 29 July 2007

Pointless and clueless: the book "China under Hu Jintao"

There is a blockbuster book published in 2005, with the striking title "China under Hu Jintao". It is extremely fitting for the book's publication, since Hu had been in the commanding position of China for quite a few years, and China under his reign undertook profound transformation from the previous leader Jiang. This book is naturally arousing with its title and drew some positive routine comments from students in the field of China studies.

Unfortunately, on a closer inspection, the book is unbelievably weak and pointless. To say it as shallow is not quite appropriate in manners. One key weak point is the time span under study. People naturally assume the book deals with, describes, and analyses the work and mistakes under Hu's leadership, as it had been nearly a full term under him when the book was published. Even some discussions on SARs will do, the tragic event in the very early years of Hu's rule. But no, contents in the book are mostly on past experiences even before Hu came onto the centre stage. Several contributors spend lengthy time talking about Deng and Jiang, apparently ignoring the real subject of their studies in this book. This makes the book undoubtedly irrelevant to people who have some interest in Hu's own leadership and the related issue of directions China is headed.

This lack of up-to-date relevant information in the book makes people suspect that most contributors simply got their old essays out, dusted off the cover, and submitted to the editors, to meet the deadline requirement of a new book. Most of the data are outdated, even before the last year of the 20th century, despite those plentiful elaborate wordings and academic jargons. It is not funny when one reads words of expectation about what Hu should do when he held the leadership ring; this just shows how lazy some researchers are.

I found the contents of the book China under Hu Jintao have little to do with the title, and I wonder how the authors and editors came up with this striking title. It is a clever marketing strategy to put Hu's name in the title and pretend to discuss his undertakings, but this mask can fool no one in the serious business of China studies. As little is there in the book about Hu's doing, rather than Jiang's or even Deng's doing, this book with over a dozen professors participating simply becomes not relevant to studies on Hu,China and current affairs over there. And the harm is done in which the book really gives a hard time for other scholars who might actually write about Hu' tasks, because the right title for their work was taken by some genius editors. what a pity!

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