This (Dutch language) book ‘Fables about China‘, discussing ‘persistent western misconceptions about the new world power’ was published early Ocotber last year, and I picked it up in a local bookstore that same month.

Written by veteran journalist Jan van der Putten (41), this was a good read, critically discussing China starting from its internal and self-perspective, not from the unexpressed or faulty assumptions of the past 7 decades that informed western responses. The tone of the book felt a bit odd every now and then. After reading I realised the author is from 1941 so this book was published last fall when he was 79, meaning he watched most of it unfold in real time. Reading this book also resurfaced for me why my primary school teacher in the early eighties impressed on me the lesson that China would over time become a world power when he did. It was right when Deng Xiaoping initiated the economic reforms that allowed foreign investments and private entrepreneurship, starting the economic rise of China. The book also contextualises very well the work on the ‘new silk road’ and ‘digital silk road’ I witnessed across Cenrtal Asia in recent years.

It was published just 2 months before the Covid-19 pandemic started in China. Internal and external repsonse and actions by China closely match too what Van der Putten writes.

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  • 💬 Khürt Williams