Tough to predict

August 23, 2012

Your review of my book Tiger Head, Snake Tails: China Today, How It Got There and Where It is Heading ("The anatomy of a strange beast", 5 July) says it "pulls its punches". But as the book makes clear early on, I regard cut-and-dried forecasts about China's future as mistaken. The crystal ball is much more cloudy. Readers may disagree with that, but I can hardly be expected to abandon a basic thesis for the sake of facile prediction.

Taxing me with contradiction for not forecasting the implosion of the People's Republic, your reviewer, David Bachman, writes that Chinese "regimes" always seem to implode. But the empire lasted for two millennia. If he is referring to dynasties, some endured for centuries. The People's Republic has been going for only six decades, so I see no contradiction in not anticipating its imminent demise.

Bachman then depicts the lack of obvious support for reform in the new leadership's line-up as a problem for my analysis. But it forms the basis for my conclusion that the ability to change is key to China's future. Lack of reform will, indeed, be the big problem for the country, but hardly for an argument that puts it in central position.

Jonathan Fenby, London

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