The China Record

An Assessment of the People's Republic

By Fei-Ling Wang

Subjects: Political Science, Chinese Studies, History, Political Economy, Cultural Studies
Hardcover : 9781438492278, 421 pages, March 2023
Paperback : 9781438492261, 421 pages, September 2023

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Table of contents

Figures and Tables

Games of Numbers: A Note on Methodology and Epistemology
Arrangement of the Book

1. Political Governance: People’s Dictatorship and the Party-State
The Tragedy and the Grand Detour
The DNA of the Party-State: Mao Zedong Thought
Déjà vu in Beijing: Xi Jinping Thought
CCP Optimality and China Suboptimality
People’s Lives and Rights in the People’s Republic
Extra-Legal Means for Extra Control
Thought Work, Jingoism, Officials-Standard, and Power Fetishism
The Partocracy and the Police State
The Ruling Class and the Aristocracy
Intrusion, Insecurity, and Intranquility

2. Economic Record: Socialism with Chinese Characteristics
The China Model
Incompetence and Failures: Mao’s Great Famine and Stark Stagnation
Three Decades of Prodigious Growth
Distortions and Dysfunctions
Extraction and Profligacy
Quantitative Assessments of the Record
What about India? A Note on Comparison

3. Social Life: Bitterness, Happiness, and Resistance
A Bona Fide Developing Country
Bitterness Eaters and Luxury Indulgers
Inequality and Poverty
Disaster Relief
The Elusive Happiness
Voting with Feet
Watched, Worried, Wrathful

4. Spirit and Ecology: Culture, Ethics, and the Environment
The Officials-Standard and Society
The CCP Pantheon of Demigods and Chiefs
Moral Vacuum, Amnesia, and the Mind
Anecdata of Corruption
Academia and Education
“We All Fake It”
Publication, Antiquities, and Gastronomy
The Environment and Ecology
Superpower of Imitation

Epilogue: From the Record
Works and Sources Cited

Detailed assessment of the People's Republic of China as an alternative mode of political system and as a distinctive model of socioeconomic development.


The China Record provides readers with an ambitious, detailed, and wide-ranging examination of the People's Republic of China (PRC) under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) both as an alternative mode of political system and a distinctive model of socioeconomic development. Fei-Ling Wang assesses the record of the economy under the CCP, people's lives and rights, and China's spiritual and physical ecology. He focuses on issues of political representation, criminal justice, fiscal and monetary policies, state-led growth, living standards, academia and education, inequality and poverty, disaster relief and pandemic prevention, culture and ethics, and the protection of antiquities and the environment. Using both quantitative and qualitative data, The China Record seeks to provide a solid and balanced, yet unflinching, view about the nature, strengths, weaknesses, and implications of the PRC as an emerging superpower and a potential world leader. It is an effort to introduce a holistic evaluation of the CCP-PRC's overall efficacy, efficiency, power, sustainability, and desirability—or the lack thereof.

Fei-Ling Wang is Professor of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His previous books include The China Order: Centralia, World Empire and the Nature of Chinese Power (also published by SUNY Press); Organization through Division and Exclusion: China's Hukou System; and China Rising: Power and Motivation in Chinese Foreign Policy (coedited with Yong Deng).


"Wang successfully merges passionate conviction with broad, deep, and well-organized scholarship. Many of the book's most trenchant criticisms of CCP-PRC state policy and its outcomes are from PRC publications. As a result, The China Record delivers the most powerful intellectual shock to our understanding of China of any book published since the death of Mao Zedong." — Roger Garside, author of China Coup: The Great Leap to Freedom