Zhu Rongji Meets the Press
Within the past year (2009), a landmark book, issued from the office of Zhu Rongji, the Premier of China from 1998 to 2003, was published to much interest and acclaim on the Chinese mainland. Zhu Rongji, the unswerving economic reformer who helped to tame rampant inflation and put the nation firmly on the path to international economic integration, became a respected and popular figure among world business leaders, heads of state, diplomats, and particularly among progressive reformers within China. The book (published in Chinese under the title Zhu Rongji Answers Journalists' Questions) - a collection of the Premier's talks and interviews with reporters from around the globe - was the first book to offer such a comprehensive and front-row view of Zhu's conduct of China's foreign and economic policy. OUP (China) Ltd., proposes to publish the English translation of this book, with some modifications for the English readership. Comprised of four parts, the book of talks by Zhu, presented within, collectively give a picture of the history of Zhu's tenure; of the many internal and external challenges faced by China more broadly at the time; and of Zhu the man and his vision for China in the age of global financial interdependence. It also includes interviews with Zhu from earlier periods (1993 to 1997, in his capacities as Vice Premier of the State Council, as well as Governor of the People's Bank of China). The book will include a new foreword by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a new interview with Zhu specifically for this book, and a general introduction by the editors. Part One features Zhu's exchanges with Chinese and foreign reporters at five different press conferences from 1998 to 2002. Part Two is a collection of interviews with foreign news media, beginning in 1993 through 2002, including some which were abridged for articles in the foreign media. These range from interviews with mainstream U.S. media such as BusinessWeek and CNN, to Itar-Tass News Agency and La Libre Belgique and others. Part Three includes Zhu's speeches and Q & A sessions with business, industry and other groups during his travels abroad (from visits to New York, Istanbul, Cairo, Manila and more). Part Four is a collection of interviews that Zhu gave in Chinese with Hong Kong media during his travels abroad, which together cover a remarkably broad range of Chinese foreign policy issues. For a man known to speak frequently off-script, this set of records of Zhu's talks - explaining everything from China's program of reforming state industry and transforming the financial system, and its approach to joining the World Trade Organization, to its response to the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in May of 1999 - will make a significant contribution in English to understanding China with Zhu at the policy helm. In a nation where biographies and particularly autobiographies of high-level officials are hard to come by (and tend to be posthumous, as in the recently published journals of Zhao Ziyang), these on-the-record talks and exchanges can be an important, alternative means of accessing the character of a leader. Collectively, they give a good picture of Zhu in action - sparring and joking with journalists, stating and explaining China's official fixed positions on important policy matters, while suggesting China's flexibility and openness in others. His encounters and joint talks with such world figures as former President Bill Clinton, Peter Kann, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, journalists such as Jim Lehrer of PBS, and a broad array of foreign journalists, economists and industry leaders, are faithfully recorded here. While Western readers will have read some articles in English resulting from some of the foreign media briefings included here, the talks in this book are translated from the original Chinese transcripts made by Zhu's office of his Chinese comments at briefings and interviews (without the third-party lens of the simultaneous translator). This will give the English reader a "you were there" feel to the dialogues, as well as a closer and truer reflection of the words spoken by the Premier. Two reviewers looked at the collection (in the Chinese original, followed by seven chapters in English translation) and those reports are attached. Reader A, an American professor of Chinese politics and leadership, believes that the English edition of this book will be a useful resource for scholars and "an important book". He found in the collection an interesting reflection of Zhu's character and of his critical mark on China's economy through the late 1990s and early 2000s. Given the length of the book, he questioned how widely the volume would sell among general China readers, but believes that it will find an audience among China scholars and the foreign business community. Reader A suggests that the Introduction will be very important to the success of the book and recommends that the Press ensure that this section provide a brief biography of Zhu, explain the structure of the book and highlight the significance for the English reader of particular aspects and contributions of this collection. The Reader's concern may be addressed, in part, by the addition of a fresh interview with Zhu about his leadership and about this book listed in the most recent Table of Contents. This book of talks by, and with the man who was called "China's economic tsar" should be a valuable historic record for China scholars and researchers, and a compelling historic read for those who closely follow Chinese leadership, politics and economic reform and development. Oxford University Press (China) Ltd., enthusiastically recommends publication of this collection.
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