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Straits Times journalist launches book on China's leaps and stumbles after the Beijing Olympics

Singapore, 31 Oct 2013 – 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.

The 320-page book will be officially launched at the Singapore Writers Festival on Saturday, November 2, at 10am 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 November 2. Online shoppers can also order the book from 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 November 15. The session is jointly organised by Straits Times Press and the Singapore Press Club. 

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For more information, please contact:

Adrian Cheong 
Corporate Communications & CSR 
Singapore Press Holdings Ltd 
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HP: 9798 6097 

About Straits Times Press

Straits Times Press is a publishing house with more than 100 years of combined international publishing experience as a team. The team has won international and regional prizes for excellence in editorial, design and publishing. 

Straits Times Press publishes History, Biographies/Memoirs, Politics, Culture, Food and Lifestyle books. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings Ltd.

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About Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

Incorporated in 1984, main board-listed Singapore Press Holdings Ltd (SPH) is Southeast Asia’s leading media organisation, engaging minds and enriching lives across multiple languages and platforms.

Newspapers, Magazines and Book Publishing 
SPH has 19 titles licensed under the Newspaper Printing and Presses Act, of which nine are daily newspapers across four languages. On an average day, 3.05 million individuals or 76 per cent of people above 15 years old, read one of SPH's news publications. SPH also publishes and produces more than 100 magazine titles in Singapore and the region, covering a broad range of interests from lifestyle to information technology. SPH's subsidiaries, Straits Times Press and Focus Publishing, produce quality books and periodicals in English and Chinese.

Internet and Mobile
Beyond print, the Internet editions of SPH newspapers enjoy over 300 million page views with 20 million unique visitors every month. Apart from AsiaOne, SPH’s online and new media initiatives include ST701, the leading online marketplace for jobs (STJobs), property (STProperty), cars (STCars) and general classifieds (STClassifieds); Stomp, and The Straits Times RazorTV. SPH also launched The Straits Times’ iPad and enhanced iPhone applications, an Android smartphone application and The Business Times’ iPhone application. SPH’s Chinese flagship newspaper Lianhe Zaobao has also launched its digital editions which include a web application, as well as online and PDF versions.

In the radio business, SPH UnionWorks Pte Ltd operates entertainment stations UFM 100.3 in Mandarin, as well as Kiss92 and HOT FM91.3 in English. SPH has a 20 per cent stake in MediaCorp TV Holdings Pte Ltd, which operates free-to-air channels 5, 8 and U, and a 40 per cent stake in MediaCorp Press Limited, which publishes the free newspaper, Today. 

Events and Out-of-Home Advertising
SPH’s events arm Sphere Exhibits organises innovative consumer and trade events and exhibitions as well as large scale conferences in Singapore and the region. In addition, SPH has ventured into out-of-home (OOH) advertising through its digital out-of-home platform SPHMBO. 

SPH REIT is a Singapore-based REIT established principally to invest, directly or indirectly, in a portfolio of income-producing real estate which is used primarily for retail purposes in Asia-Pacific, as well as real estate-related assets. SPH REIT is managed by SPH REIT Management Pte. Ltd., which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings Limited. 

The initial portfolio of SPH REIT comprises the following two high quality and well located commercial properties in Singapore:

- Paragon, a premier upscale retail mall and medical suite/office property, well known for its upscale mall housing many luxury brands, located in the heart of Orchard Road; and
- The Clementi Mall, a mid-market suburban mall located in the centre of Clementi town, an established residential estate in the west of Singapore. 

The Seletar Mall is SPH's latest retail development and is expected to open at the end of 2014. This property is a potential asset to be injected into SPH REIT. SPH’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Times Development Pte Ltd, also developed a 43-storey upmarket residential condominium, Sky@eleven, at Thomson Road. 

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