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The municipal party secretary was on the block for 1,000.

It followed a certain logic: in weak democracies, people paid their way into office by buying votes; in a state where there were no votes to buy, you paid the people who doled out the jobs.

For one thing, the issues they’re about tend to reflect the moral concerns of people in China.” Despite its advances, China’s government may be as controlling as ever regarding party-threatening information.

The Central Propaganda Department has one (unmarked) office per 100 people, and prohibits public discussion of matters ranging from corruption to natural disasters.

Several pitfalls await those who attempt to turn their experience in the Middle Kingdom into stories that can capture the lives and aspirations of ordinary people in a nation of 1.3 billion that has been transformed beyond recognition by 35 years of unbridled economic growth.

Many succumb to the sins of superficiality, oversimplification and lack of perspective.

The fact is it’s now a part of our lives that it simply wasn’t 25 or even 10 years ago, when I first went to live in China, and it’s becoming an inexorable part of our future.” He continues, “In the beginning there is this temptation, because China is so vast as an idea and as a place, to look at it in really broad terms, and I did that—that’s what I was trying to do.

The longer I was in China, the more I looked at the smaller details.

For those at the top, the scale of temptation had reached a level unlike anything ever encountered in the West.Even the military was riddled with patronage; commanders received a string of payments from a pyramid of loyal officers beneath them.A one-star general could reportedly expect to receive ten million dollars in gifts and business deals; a four-star commander stood to earn at least fifty million.In some villages, a real estate arms race began, as families sought to outdo one another by building extra floors, which sat empty until they could afford to furnish them.Between 20, home prices in Beijing, Shanghai, and other big cities rose by up to 800 percent.” ― Evan Osnos, “With so many thinkers “spending so much energy fighting over words and ink, we have forgotten to criticize government authority; we have forgotten to pay attention to social welfare.“Sometimes China can feel threatening to us, and it can feel oddly like they’re doing us better than we do us.They’re taking on bold projects, they’re getting their kids into Harvard—what we think of as very American attributes, like building a highway system across the country.“To alter fate, the Chinese feel they need to do things to acquire more luck.” In surveys, Chinese casino gamblers tend to view bets as investments and investments as bets.The stock market and real estate, in the Chinese view, are scarcely different from a casino.“It’s a constant struggle as a writer who’s trying to capture this country of such profound contradictions.How much should I be writing about lives that are broadly reflective of other people’s experience?


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