Heidi's Reviews > China Road: A Journey into the Future of a Rising Power

China Road by Rob Gifford
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Jan 02, 12

Read in January, 2012

Just before packing up and leaving China for good, NPR foreign correspondent Rob Gifford bused and hitchhiked his way along China's 5000 kilometer Route 312. Route 312 spans the country from east to west, from the modern city of Shanghai, through the industrial areas along the coast, alongside the poor rural farmers in China's central region, and right through the Gobi Desert. Along the way, Gifford (who is fluent in Mandarin) talked to the local people and made his own observations about China's future.

It's difficult to write a summary of this book because the whole book is a summary, in a way. Many of the observations were surprising for me, probably because I don't know much about China. The devastating AIDS epidemic in the Hunan Province, for example, was caused by poor farmers selling their plasma for money--to health care workers who were using unsanitary techniques. And when traveling through a farming area, Gifford meets nurses who not only admit to performing forced abortions on late-term fetuses, but who are actually proud of the contribution they're making to keeping China's population down.

But it wasn't all grim. Gifford does a good job of accurately representing the people he comes across. I laughed out loud when he ran across one of China's newest and most enthusiastic entrepreneurs: an Amway salesman. I also liked the fact that Gifford was unashamedly religious, which seems to be rare in a news correspondent.

The book had lots of interesting historical details which related well with Gifford's analysis of modern China. I found it interesting and well worth the read.

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