Charlie Hore

China's scattered migrants

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China's booming economy has been built on the back of migrant workers. Hsiao-Hung Pai talked to Sally Kincaid and Charlie Hore about her new book and the lives of China's migrant population

Why did you choose the title Scattered Sand for your book?

The idea of Scattered Sand came originally from Sun Yatsen, the founding father of the Guomindang (Nationalist) Party - so it came from the Republican Revolution of 1911. The idea was when he was talking about the Chinese people as being scattered sands - not united as a nation against Western imperialism.

The Ousting of Bo Xilai

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The very public demotion of Bo Xilai, former Chinese Communist Party (CCP) boss of the south western province of Chongqing, marks the biggest public split among China's rulers since 1989. Then a split in the top leadership helped spark a major nationwide revolt from below, inspired by the students in Tiananmen Square, that culminated in troops gunning down protesters in Beijing.

Over the last few years Bo had built up something of a personality cult around his nostalgic appeals to the egalitarian image of Mao's China - by implication a criticism of the corruption rampant among present-day officials. Later this year the CCP will choose a new collective central leadership of nine men (there are no female candidates in prospect). The assumption was that Bo was in line for one of these places.

The Struggle for Tibet

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Wang Lixiong and Tsering Shakya, Verso, £8.99

In March 2008 Tibet exploded. A peaceful demonstration in Lhasa, the capital city, was attacked by the police and army, and thousands of people fought back. For the next two months there were hundreds of solidarity protests, marches and riots over a huge area.

Most of the protests happened outside Tibet province, in areas that have a majority Tibetan population but are directly ruled by China. Most Tibetans live in these areas (sometimes called "historic" Tibet), but it was assumed that they largely accepted Chinese rule, unlike the population of Tibet province.

Will this be China's century?

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China is now widely tipped to challenge the power and dominance of the US in the next few decades. In the final part of our series on China, Charlie Hore assesses the global implications of China's economic growth and the impact of workers' struggles on the regime.

China since Mao is one of the great success stories of modern capitalism. Thirty years ago the Chinese economy was growing slower than China's population and accounted for less than 1 percent of world trade. Earlier this year China overtook Germany as the world's largest exporter, and the economy has continued to grow throughout the world recession - almost the only economy in the world to do so.

When China threw off imperialism

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The 60th anniversary of the Chinese Revolution will be marked by the customary orchestrated celebrations in Tiananmen Square. In the first of a short series on China, Charlie Hore looks at how the revolution came about and its impact on the world.

The years after the Second World War saw national liberation struggles spread rapidly across Asia and Africa, ousting the old colonial empires and weakening the power of imperialism. The 1949 revolution in China was the first, and biggest, of these struggles, and it was to provide an inspiration for many other battles against imperialism.

When China rules the world

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Martin Jacques, Allen Lane; £25.00

One of the most striking features of China's rise has been its sheer speed. Thirty years ago the Chinese economy was essentially stagnant, and accounted for less than 1 percent of world trade. Since then it has grown by around 10 percent a year almost without interruption, and has become the third largest trading economy (behind the US and Germany).

In Loving Memory of America

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CD, Gilad Atzmon

Disclaimer - I've never previously much liked Gilad Atzmon's CDs. Live, he can be brilliant, with a bite and intensity that make him one of the best jazz artists working in Britain today. But I've rarely felt that he's managed to capture that on CD.

This is very different, though. His new recording mixes a love of and nostalgia for the jazz tradition with some very contemporary orchestration and sounds. But while the central concept is rooted in jazz history, this is far from a retro exercise in simply re-creating the past.

The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World Economy

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Minqi Li, Pluto Press, £19.99

This is an interesting, if frustrating, read, both for the picture it gives of China on the edge of recession and for the insights into Maoism's revival.

The best part of the book is Li's analysis of China's rise as a global economic power. Economic growth since the 1990s has essentially been driven by exports, particularly to the US.

A Floating City of Peasants

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Floris-Jan van Luyn, The New Press, £21.99

China's economic boom is largely powered by migrant workers, peasants who have moved to the cities in the largest migration in human history. Currently there are between 120 and 150 million migrants in the cities, yet very little is known about their lives and ambitions, which makes this book particularly welcome. A Floating City of Peasants is reportage rather than history, taking the life stories of some 20 or 30 people to give a vivid sense of the migrant experience.

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