The myth buster

Updated: 2011-09-02 11:12

By Chitralekha Basu (China Daily European Weekly)

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 The myth buster
Robert Lawrence Kuhn has interviewed more than 100 Chinese leaders holding key positions. [Provided to China Daily]

An outsider's look at china's leaders is updated and expanded

The 90th anniversary of the Communist Party of China in July coincided with a spate of writing in the Western press most notably Fareed Zakaria (CNN), and Ian Bremmer (Wall Street Journal) - reiterating that China was unlikely to be the next superpower.

Typically, these writers took a skeptical view of the projections that China might push past America's economic hegemony in the next five years or so, or build the political capacity to assume the position of global leadership.

"China is already an economic and political superpower in the perception of many people," says Robert Lawrence Kuhn, international corporate strategist, media personality and adviser to Chinese companies on capitalist markets for more than 20 years. "In today's world, where media makes news more than reports it, perceptions are realities."

As far as he can see "China will only grow in its relative power". He hastens to add that for China's leaders this growth may turn out to be "more a burden than a blessing".

Kuhn is probably at an advantage over fellow China watchers from the Western media to comment on how Chinese leaders may handle this exponential growth and its inevitable side-effects, having interviewed more than a hundred-odd Chinese officials holding key positions in the government and/or the Party, up, close.

A new enlarged edition of his latest book, How China's Leaders Think: The Inside Story of China's Past, Current and Future Leaders (John Wiley & Sons), published recently, busts a few myths about the alleged "China threat" by giving readers access to those entrusted with building the nation and shaping its future.

The first edition, published in December 2009, was sold out in a year, not surprising given that Kuhn's previous China book, The Man Who Changed China: The Life and Legacy of Jiang Zemin, the first biography of a living Chinese leader written by a foreigner to be published on the mainland, in 2005, was a bestseller.

So how did Kuhn manage to win the confidence of Chinese leaders who shared their opinions about governance and strategy freely with him?

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