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Meet the Author: Ben Chu - 'Chinese Whispers: why everything you’ve heard about China is wrong'

Meet the Author
Wednesday 4 November 2015

Meet the Authors continues with special guest Ben Chu, economics editor at The Independent, discussing his first book.  Join us as we dispel some myths about China.

An iconoclastic portrait of modern China and a counterblast to Western assumptions.

We think we know China. The world's most venerable and self-confident civilisation, home to the largest unified race of people on the planet, China manufactures the objects that fill our lives. We see a country peopled by docile and determined factory workers, domineering 'Tiger Mothers' obsessed with education and achievement, and a society that has put the accumulation of wealth above political freedom. Above all, we see a superpower on the rise, destined to overtake the West and to dominate the 21st century.

But how accurate is this picture? What if, as Ben Chu argues, we are all engaged in a grand game of Chinese Whispers, in which the facts have become more and more distorted in the telling?

We have been getting China and the Chinese wrong for centuries. From the Enlightenment philosophes, enraptured by what they imagined to be a kingdom of reason, to the Victorians who derided the 'flowery empire', outsiders have long projected their own dreams and nightmares onto this vast country. With China's economic resurgence today, many have fallen once more under the spell of this glittering new global hegemon, while others foretell terrible danger in China's return to the centre of the world stage.

CHINESE WHISPERS tugs aside this age-old curtain of distortion in a powerful counterblast to modern assumptions about China. By examining the central myths, or 'whispers', that have come to dominate our view of China, Ben Chu forces us to question everything we thought we knew about world's most populous nation. The result is a surprising, penetrating insight into modern China.

Event highlights:

About the author:

Ben Chu has been economics editor of the Independent since August 2011. Before that he was the newspaper’s chief leader writer and assistant comment editor. He has reported from China, Taiwan, Germany, France and Switzerland and Ireland. Other jobs Ben has done at the paper include editing the letters page and writing for the personal finance pages. He was born in Manchester and studied modern history at Jesus College Oxford. His father was born in China and his mother is British. Ben’s first book Chinese Whispers: why everything you’ve heard about China is wrong is published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson.