China Book Reviews

 

Lisa Carducci, As Great As The World, New Intercontinental Press, Beijing, 2002.

ISBN 7-5085-0096-2


 


The Worst China Book, Ever!

Lisa Carducci, As Great As The World, China Intercontinental Press, Beijing, 2002.

by Jason Lee

This book reads like something direct from the pages of the the China Daily.  The author, Canadian-born Lisa Carducci, has a Ph.D in Linguistics from the University of Montreal, has worked for the Overseas (French) Programs of CCTV, and is now a journalist for, not surprisingly, the Beijing Review. In 2001 she was awarded the Friendship Award of the People's Republic of China - no doubt for her services in helping to spread official government propaganda, for that's exactly what her book is, and very crudely so.

Carducci takes up three or four pages attacking the United States, which she compares very unfavorably to China, suggesting that the former is "running out of breath" while the latter is already a utopia. "The United States," she writes, "practices a politics of power, unlike China, and their tools are Tibet, Taiwan, human rights, and religious freedom." (p.141) 

Chinese citizens, she says, "enjoy religious freedom" and the "State allows and respects normal religious activities and protects the legitimate rights and interests of religious groups." (p.139) While religion is flourishing throughout China, Carducci's arguments are seriously undermined by her failure to mention any of the religious restrictions that are in fact placed on organized religious gatherings, nor does she alert us to any of the ongoing persecutions that take place against those who test the laws governing religious behavior.

Her analysis of the Tibetan situation is laughable: "Tibet is a beautiful and peaceful place where people sing while they work, where people smile and enjoy life," she concludes, claiming legitimacy by virtue of having once visited the land of snow lions. Tibetans living in exile (though of course she never once uses the word "exile") are victims of not only ignorance, she claims, but also of a "well organized campaign of misinformation" by the United States imperialists, with the Dalai Lama himself also "a poor victim, a puppet." (pp.161-162)

According to Carducci, everyone in the People's Republic live wonderful and happy lives: Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, all ethnic minorities (including the singing Tibetans) and human rights "problems" don't even warrant a mention; they don't exist. There are no problems according to this China "expert", and in her grand conclusion, titled "My Wish for China", Carducci hopes for nothing more than that China can continue to make such "extraordinary achievements." (p.196)

This book is entertaining - the kind of text that will prompt a laugh - but why spend money on such a book of comedies when one can read online the same crudely "crafted" crap (pardon the alliteration) on the pages of the China Daily? Carducci even goes so far as to defend the very use of the word "propaganda", transliterating its use by the Chinese Central Government as "publicity". (p.142) Here, Carducci plays with mere rhetoric. Publicity becomes a euphemism for propaganda, and Carducci, quite shamelessly, though perhaps without realizing the irony, goes on immediately to explain that whenever the Chinese "launch a book on the market or a writer's new book, it is 'propaganda', and an information office is a propaganda bureau." (p.142)

Her book is indeed, "publicity" - and if it "helps even one person to better understand and appreciate China, as large as the world," reads her last sentence, "I will not have written it in vain." (p.196)

Methinks though, that she has written it largely in vain, for her book, in my nasty opinion at least, is hardly worth the paper it's printed on.