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China Modernizes

Threat to the West or Model for the Rest?

Randall Peerenboom

Publication Date - 01 March 2007

ISBN: 9780199208340

432 pages

A controversial, first-hand account of modern China and its complexities


Two sharply contrasting views of China exist today; one of a rising superpower, and the other of an anachronistic, authoritarian regime. So which is the real China? Randall Peerenboom offers a controversial, first-hand account of modern China focusing on its economic, political and legal attributes within the context of the developing world.


  • Randall Peerenboom provides a controversial, first-hand account of modern China and its complexities
  • Challenges readers to re-assess their view of China by presenting original evidence across the political, economic, and legal spectrum
  • Sheds new light on China's record on civil, political, and human rights by evaluating China's actions within a comparative context
  • Addresses contemporary policy debates from within China, as well as from a global perspective

About the Author(s)

Randy Peerenboom is Director of the Oxford Foundation for Law, Justice and Society's China Rule of Law Programme. He's an Associate Fellow at Oxford University Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, and Professor of Law at La Trobe University in Melbourne. He obtained a B.A. in Philosophy, M.A. in Chinese Religion and Ph.D. in Philosophy before obtaining a J.D. from Columbia Law School. In addition to serving as an expert witness on PRC legal issues, he has been a consultant to the Ford Foundation and the Asian Development Bank on legal reforms and rule of law in China. Having practiced for several years with a major international law firm in Beijing, he is currently Of Counsel at Zhonglun Law Firm, one of China's leading foreign investment firms.


"By exploring China's recent progress and problems in the context of the developing world, this thoughtfully structured, thoroughly argued volume...seeks to foster mutual trust between the West and Beijing. Highly recommended."--CHOICE

"Randy Peerenboom tells a bold and compelling story of China's rise and its implications for the world. He shows that China's performance on key developmental indicators meets or exceeds that of most other lower-middle income countries. Noting that democratic accountability and constitutionalism tend to come rather late in the developmental sequence within the EAM, he suggests that China's continuing high rate of economic growth augurs well for the future emergence of political rights, pluralism, and governmental accountability..."--Richard Baum, Professor of Political Science, UCLA

"China Modernizes is a timely examination of China's grand economic strategy by one of the keenest and most prolific observers of Asia today. Peerenboom carefully analyzes how the Chinese are both drawing from and deviating from the experience of earlier rapid East Asian developers. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand the prospects and potential pitfalls in China's road ahead."--Tom Ginsburg, Professor of Law and Political Science, University of Illinois

"Randy Peerenboom has jumped with vigor and data into the ever deepening debate over how to view China. Going beyond the previous focus on the economic aspects of the East Asian Model, he shows that the EAM has served China well and suggests that other countries may also learn from China's experiences. Sure to set off debate, China Modernizes is a must read."--Joseph Fewsmith, Professor of International Relations and Political Science, Boston University

"Randy Peerenboom brings a thick cultural awareness to the sometimes ominous pronouncements of political economists. Building his book on the four pillars of modernity -economics, human rights, rule of law, and democratization -he challenges his readers to relax their assumptions about the way the world has to work-- assumptions which have allowed for a popular and persistent demonizing of China in all its aspects. China in this moment is undergoing the greatest revolution in its long history. But far from precipitating the clichéd clash of civilizations that fearmongers are wont to predict, China could well establish a concrete, alternative model of successful development. "--Roger T. Ames, Professor of Philosophy, University of Hawai'i

"This thought-provoking book and major contribution to studies of law and development, globalization and modernization is essential reading for all those interested in understanding the nature and implications of China's "model of development". No matter whether this message pleases readers, the case definitely needs to be heard."--Professor Albert H.Y. Chen, Faculty of Law, University of Hong Kong

Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: Two Opposing Views of China
    2. Déjà vu- China and the East Asian Model
    3. Taking rights seriously? Official policy and actual practice
    4. Social and economic rights, law and order, women's rights and cultural rights
    5. Of rights and wrongs: Why China is subject to a double standard on rights
    6. Institutional reform: rule of law and good governance
    7. Debating democracy
    8. What if China democratizes? What if it doesn't?
    9. Conclusion: modernity with modesty- the strength and limits of the EAM