Episode 18

Summer of China: Three Books to Read

Released on August 27, 2020


This episode, we present - the inaugural Asia Matters Book Club episode. China has dominated the headlines this summer - and if you’re looking for a good book to help you understand the country better, we have three excellent suggestions. The Wall Street Journal’s Lingling Wei (@Lingling_Wei) is back to talk through her new book, Superpower Showdown. Co-authored with her colleague Bob Davis (@bobdavis187), it’s a detailed look at the U.S. - China trade war and what its lasting effects on both countries might be. If you’re not in the mood for current affairs, veteran journalist Michael Schuman’s (@MichaelSchuman) Superpower Interrupted: The Chinese History of the World, takes readers back thousands of years. As the name suggests, it’s a rundown of the country’s history as it’s perceived in China itself, rather than by external observers. And finally, Bloomberg Economics’ chief economist Tom Orlik (@TomOrlik) has written China: The Bubble That Never Pops, to explore the resilience of the modern Chinese economy. Despite years of dire warnings it’s on the brink of collapse, it hasn’t yet - but why?

Lingling Wei

Lingling Wei is the Chief China Economics Correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. Based in Beijing, she leads a team of reporters who cover all aspects of China's economy and its macroeconomic policies. She is co-author of the book Superpower Showdown. She was a finalist by the Society of Publishers in Asia for its 2017 Journalist of the Year award and was cited by the Overseas Press Club in New York in 2016 for best international business reporting. Before relocating to Beijing in 2011, she was a New York-based real estate reporter for the Journal. From 2001 to 2007, Lingling worked at Dow Jones Newswires and covered a variety of beats from bankruptcy, accounting to Wall Street brokerages. She has a M.A. in business journalism from New York University. She also appeared on Episode 4.

Michael Schuman

Michael Schuman is a contributor to The Atlantic and a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion. He was formerly a correspondent on Asia and global economic issues for TIME in Beijing. In his 16 years as a journalist in Asia, he has reported from a dozen countries, including China, India, Japan and Indonesia. Assignments have taken him into Gobi Desert sandstorms, Malaysian mosques, Indian call centers and Chinese shirt factories and to a North Korean state dinner (complete with Kim Jong Il himself). He is the author of The Miracle: The Epic Story of Asia's Quest for Wealth. Before joining TIME in 2002, he was a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and a staff writer for Forbes. He has a B.A. in Asian history and political science from the University of Pennsylvania and a MIA from Columbia University.

Tom Orlik

Tom Orlik is the chief economist for Bloomberg Economics. He was previously Bloomberg’s Chief Asia Economist. He led a team providing in-depth analysis of Asia macroeconomic data and policies, and how they will impact financial markets globally. Previously, he was the chief China economics correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, and China economist for Stone & McCarthy Research Associates. Prior to coming to China, he was an advisor to the U.K. Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund and policy analyst at the British Treasury. He is the author of Understanding China’s Economic Indicators, a guide to working with China’s economic data. Orlik has a M.A. in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a B.A. in English from University College London.


Superpower Showdown: How the Battle Between Trump and Xi Threatens a New Cold War

By Lingling Wei, Bob Davis
This is the inside story of the US–China trade war, how relations between these superpowers unraveled, darkening prospects for global peace and prosperity, as told by two Wall Street Journal reporters, one based in Washington, D.C., the other in Beijing, who have had more access to the decision makers in the White House and in China’s Zhongnanhai leadership compound than anyone else.
Buy on Amazon

Superpower Interrupted: The Chinese History of the World

By Michael Schuman
This global history as the Chinese would write it gives brilliant and unconventional insights for understanding China’s role in the world, especially the drive to “Make China Great Again.” We in the West routinely ask: “What does China want?” The answer is quite simple: the superpower status it always had, but briefly lost. For the Chinese, the question was never if they could reclaim their former dominant position in the world, but when.
Buy on Amazon

China: The Bubble That Never Pops

By Tom Orlik
The Chinese economy appears destined for failure, the financial bubble forever in peril of popping, the real estate sector doomed to collapse, the factories fated for bankruptcy. And yet, against the odds and against expectations, growth continues, wealth rises, international influence expands. Tom Orlik, a veteran of more than a decade in Beijing, turns the spotlight on China’s fragile fundamentals, and resources for resilience.
Buy on Amazon