A German journalist who specializes in China describes a nation under the thumb of totalitarianism with a sophisticated system of technological surveillance that governs nearly every aspect of life, revealing the fundamental ways in which the West has miscalculated the political direction of post-Maoist China.
His engrossing, deeply reported and somewhat Orwellian survey of today’s China raises unhappy questions we all have yet to answer ... [Strittmatter] comes to this issue with the clear-eyed vision that accompanies firsthand experience ... Early in the book, Strittmatter takes aim at the two assumptions that panda huggers hold dear: If China wants to modernize, it will eventually have to embrace capitalism; by extension, if it has capitalism, democracy will soon follow. And, if China wants the Internet (and it does), it will have to accommodate the openness that comes with it. Strittmatter makes a compelling case that we are wrong to accept either of these beliefs.
... the most accessible and best informed account we have had to date of China’s transition from what scholars such as Rebecca MacKinnon used to call 'networked authoritarianism' to what is now a form of networked totalitarianism ... All of this and much more is energetically related by Strittmatter. The more one reads, the more pressing one conclusion becomes: almost everything we thought we knew about contemporary China is wrong ... If nothing else, this book should give us pause for thought.
... [a] fine-grained and alarming portrait of modern-day China ... Drawing on a wealth of experience in China, Strittmatter stuffs the book with telling details and incisive analysis. Even veteran China watchers will be impressed and enlightened.