China’s Megatrends, The 8 Pillars of a New Society

John and Doris Naisbitt

Harper Collins, 2010

Reviewed by Graham Mulligan

Opinions about this book fall into two very separate categories, those who see in it an explanation of how China has achieved such great change in a short time, and those who see it as merely propaganda for the government.

Here is are the Chapter titles:

Emancipating the Mind

Balancing Top-Down and Bottom-Up

Framing the Forest and Letting the Trees Grow

Crossing the River by Feeling the Stones

Artistic and Intellectual Ferment

Joining the World

Freedom and Fairness

From Olympic Medals to Nobel Prizes

The definition of ‘democracy’ has been appropriated by western government rhetoric and media reporting of international events (geopolitics) and is used to represent a specific form of political organization. The normal definition of ‘democracy’ in the west always includes some form of election process, usually organized as a competition between two or more ‘parties’. This definition also includes some form of voting procedure where rights to vote are assigned by legal description (remember ‘one man, one vote’).

Naisbitt describes China’s Communism with Chinese Characteristics as an alternate ‘democracy’ called Vertical Democracy. The leadership of this alternate model is the CPC. Leadership is described by Naisbitt as ‘context leadership’ where leaders set a context in which the group can be successful. He talks about frameworks that are not prescriptive but provide direction for trying things out. This is the story of how China has changed itself particularly since 1978.  China’s forward development is undeniable. Economic reform gradually introduced the market model first in small ways, then involving larger State Owned Enterprises. The goal of making more money has succeeded in transforming the lives of millions. Improving the quality of life culturally and environmentally are now seen as appropriate goals.

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