If you want to make an omelet, you must be willing to break a few eggs.” Vladmir Lenin
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely..” Lord Acton
Phillip Pan, former Washington Post Beijing bureau chief has written a great book on China, entitled, “Out of Mao’s Shadow: The Struggle for the Soul of a New China.” The book profiles 11 Chinese, mostly present day, and by doing so, it very nicely provides a not very pretty snapshot on China’s political development.
Pan was in China from 2000 to 2007 and one gets the distinct impression he was working on many of these profiles the entire time. Pan clearly views the people of whom he writes as markers on where China is now and where it likely will be heading. Pan takes a decidedly pessimistic view of the party’s ability to reform from within and is overall rather negative on the idea of China’s growing economy automatically leading to a corresponding growth in the political arena.
I agree and I disagree. I too do not consider the party capable of instituting full on reform, but at the same time, I believe as China’s economy continues to grow, continuing reform is inevitable.
The Washington Post, in an article entitled, Battle Lines: Portraits of people seeking, and resisting, change in China, accurately describes the book:

The 10 or so intersecting stories he tells here are gritty and real. This is not a big-theme book about the “true” China but a concrete, closely observed encounter with particular people, places and events.
* * * *
Yet some big truths emerge.

Read this book for its beautifully crafted and moving profiles of 11 individuals and to garner big truths about China.
UPDATE: Richard over at Peking Duck, the best China book reviewer on the blogosphere, just came out with an absolutely glowing review.
UPDATE: 7/10/2010 — Mark’s China Blog just reviewed this book and he raved about it, saying that If you are going to pick up just one book on China, “this might be the one to read. You will not look at China the same after reading Out of Mao’s Shadow.”

Dan Harris

I am a founder of Harris Bricken, an international law firm with lawyers in Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, China and Spain.

I mostly represent companies doing business in emerging market countries. It has taken me many years to build my network and it takes constant communication and travel to maintain it. My work has been as varied as securing the release of two improperly held helicopters in Papua New Guinea, setting up a legal framework to move slag from Canada to Poland’s interior, overseeing hundreds of litigation and arbitration matters in Korea, helping someone avoid terrorism charges in Japan, and seizing fish product in China to collect on a debt.

I was named as one of only three Washington State Amazing Lawyers in International Law, I am AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory (its highest rating), I am rated 10.0 by AVVO.com (its highest rating), and I am a SuperLawyer.

I am a frequent writer and public speaker on doing business in Asia and I constantly travel between the United States and Asia. I most commonly speak on China law issues and I am the lead writer of the award winning China Law Blog (www.chinalawblog.com). Forbes Magazine, Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Business Week, The National Law Journal, The Washington Post, The ABA Journal, The Economist, Newsweek, NPR, The New York Times and Inside Counsel have all interviewed me regarding various aspects of my international law practice.

I am licensed in Washington, Illinois, and Alaska.

In tandem with the international law team at my firm, I focus on setting up/registering companies overseas (via WFOEs, Rep Offices or Joint Ventures), drafting international contracts (NDAs, OEM Agreements, licensing, distribution, etc.), protecting IP (trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights and patents), and overseeing M&A transactions.