The 320-page book will be officially launched at the Singapore Writers Festival on , at at the Singapore Management University. Published by Straits Times Press, a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), it will be available at all major bookstores at $28 (before GST) from . Online shoppers can also order the book from – Even as the fireworks faded at the close of the Beijing Olympics, it was hardly the end of China’s “coming-out party”. In fact, it marked the surge of a "steroid superpower", a stark contrast to the massive economic meltdown in the West. The spectacular rise of China, accompanied by an upswing in social unrest, political intrigue and insecurity, has been vividly captured by award-winning Straits Times journalist Peh Shing Huei in his new book, When the Party Ends – China’s Leaps and Stumbles after the Beijing Olympics.www.stpressbooks.com.sg from the same day.
When the Party Ends – China’s Leaps and Stumbles after the Beijing Olympics offers a compelling account of China after it stunned the world with the memorable opening of the Olympic Games, an exciting period which coincides with the author’s posting to the country. He was based in Beijing as The Straits Times’ China Bureau Chief, reporting on the massive Sichuan earthquake three months before the Games in 2008, the dramatic fall of Chongqing chief Bo Xilai and the once-in-a-decade leadership handover in 2012.
In the book, the author uncovers the simmering tension behind China’s meteoric progress, which has seen the communist country launching high-speed rail networks at a breakneck pace and conquering space in the midst of a growing income divide. Even as China grew stronger and more assertive, it also became more fragile. This is evident in the many insightful interviews with scholars, dissidents, civil servants, politicians, and ordinary Chinese whose stories are intricately weaved into the eight chapters.
Among them is an environmentalist who was awarded a prize by the government for his work and later imprisoned by the same regime for trying to save one of China’s biggest lakes from pollution. Another heart-wrenching story comes from a former Red Guard undertaker who sobbed when he recalled the chaos of the Cultural Revolution, calling on the country to end its collective amnesia on those tumultuous years. There is also a former civil servant who was sent to a labour camp, all because of an ill-considered tweet.
This is the second book written by Mr Peh, who was based in Beijing from 2008 to 2012. He was the co-author of Struck By Lightning, a collection of essays on Singapore politics, published in 2006.
Now the deputy news editor of The Straits Times, Mr Peh, a graduate of Columbia University in New York and the National University of Singapore, said of his latest book, "I had a front-row seat to the biggest story of our generation - the rise of China. This book captures the views, the voices and the vignettes of that ascendancy, gleaned from my vantage position. I hope to share it with all those who are interested in this amazing country."
Added Mr Warren Fernandez, Editor of The Straits Times: "Straits Times readers will be familiar with the insightful reports and commentaries on China from Peh, who was our man in Beijing. This book will give them and others an insider's view of his years in China during a critical period in the country's transformation. For several decades now, The Straits Times has invested heavily in our bureaus around the world, including China, to bring the global story home to our readers. This book shows how well that investment is paying off."
Mr Patrick Daniel, Editor-in-Chief of SPH's English and Malay Newspapers Division, and also Chairman of Straits Times Press, said: "Reporting China objectively, without taking sides, is a tough assignment. Peh managed this well, and this book is proof that he kept a sharp eye on both the news as events broke as well as the wider trends - and kept above the fray."
The book has received positive reviews from China watchers and foreign correspondents.
Mr Benjamin Kang Lim, former Reuters Beijing and Taipei bureau chief, said: "When the Party Ends connects the dots, brilliantly encapsulates the momentous year that marked China’s arrival on the world stage and contextualises the future challenges and threats facing the world’s second-biggest economy. It is a must-read to understand where China came from, where it is today and where it will head to."
Professor June Teufel Dreyer, a political science don at the University of Miami and author of China’s Political System, said the book is "not only insightful but genuinely interesting to read."
Mr Ian Johnson, Pulitzer-prize winning correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, said that the book offers a colourful and insightful look at "a key pivot in Chinese history". He added: "Peh Shing Huei takes us through China’s seeming eclipse of the West during the financial crisis and into the new era of Xi Jinping. A veteran correspondent with an affinity for both elite and street-level politics, Peh is a sure-footed guide through this more complicated period, weaving on-the-ground colour with shrewd analysis."
There will also be a meet-the-author session at the SPH News Centre Auditorium on . The session is jointly organised by Straits Times Press and the Singapore Press Club.
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