Based on his experience as a scholar and diplomat stationed in China, Jean-Luc Domenach consults a wealth of archival and contemporary materials to examine China's place in the world. A sympathetic yet critical observer, Domenach brings his intimate knowledge of the country to bear on a range of crucial issues, such as the growth (or deterioration) of China's economy, the government's ever-delayed democratization, the potential outcomes of a national political crisis, and the possible escalation of a revamped authoritarianism.
Domenach ultimately reads China's current progress as a set of easy accomplishments presaging a more difficult era of development. His finely nuanced analysis captures the difficult decisions now confronting China's elite, who are under tremendous pressure to support an economy based on innovation and consumption, establish a political system based on law and popular participation, rethink their national identity and spatial organization, and define a more positive approach to the world's problems. These leaders are also besieged by corruption among their ranks, an increasingly restless urban population, and a sharp decline in the country's demographic growth. Domenach taps into these anxieties and the attempt to alleviate them, revealing a China much less confident and secure than many would believe.