Uncharted Territory


RSS     Archives

Age of ambition

今週のNew YorkerはAge of Ambitionで全米図書賞を受賞したEvan Osnosが習近平について書いていました。1万語を超える読み応えのある伝記記事になっています。

Profiles APRIL 6, 2015 ISSUE
Born Red
How Xi Jinping, an unremarkable provincial administrator, became China’s most authoritarian leader since Mao.


サブタイトルに使われたChina’s most authoritarian leader since Maoというキャッチーな部分は以下に説明があります。

But, a quarter of the way through his ten-year term, he has emerged as the most authoritarian leader since Chairman Mao. In the name of protection and purity, he has investigated tens of thousands of his countrymen, on charges ranging from corruption to leaking state secrets and inciting the overthrow of the state. He has acquired or created ten titles for himself, including not only head of state and head of the military but also leader of the Party’s most powerful committees—on foreign policy, Taiwan, and the economy. He has installed himself as the head of new bodies overseeing the Internet, government restructuring, national security, and military reform, and he has effectively taken over the courts, the police, and the secret police. “He’s at the center of everything,” Gary Locke, the former American Ambassador to Beijing, told me.

下記のような部分を読むと覇権主義的な中国を感じますが、Cultural Revolutionを本人は体験していますし、ソ連崩壊の研究もしているようなので、それなりに慎重に進めるのではと思います。

As for a broad diplomatic vision, Chinese leaders since Deng Xiaoping have adhered to a principle known as “Hide your strength, bide your time.” Xi has effectively replaced that concept with declarations of China’s arrival. In Paris last year, he invoked Napoleon’s remark that China was “a sleeping lion,” and said that the lion “has already awakened, but this is a peaceful, pleasant, and civilized lion.” He told the Politburo in December that he intends to “make China’s voice heard, and inject more Chinese elements into international rules.” As alternatives to the Washington-based World Bank and International Monetary Fund, Xi’s government has established the New Development Bank, the Silk Road infrastructure fund, and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, which, together, intend to amass two hundred and forty billion dollars in capital. Xi has been far bolder than his predecessors in asserting Chinese control over airspace and land, sending an oil rig into contested waters, and erecting buildings, helipads, and other facilities on reefs that are claimed by multiple nations. He has also taken advantage of Putin’s growing economic isolation; Xi has met with Putin more than with any other foreign leader, and, last May, as Russia faced new sanctions over the annexation of Crimea, Xi and Putin agreed on a four-hundred-billion-dollar deal to supply gas to China at rates that favor Beijing. According to the prominent editor, Xi has told people that he was impressed by Putin’s seizure of Crimea—“He got a large piece of land and resources” and boosted his poll numbers at home. But, as war in Ukraine has dragged on, Xi has become less complimentary of Putin.


A decade ago, the Chinese Internet was alive with debate, confession, humor, and discovery. Month by month, it is becoming more sterilized and self-contained. To the degree that China’s connection to the outside world matters, the digital links are deteriorating. Voice-over-Internet calls, viral videos, podcasts—the minor accessories of contemporary digital life—are less reachable abroad than they were a year ago. It’s an astonishing thing to observe in a rising superpower. How many countries in 2015 have an Internet connection to the world that is worse than it was a year ago?

To maintain economic growth, China is straining to promote innovation, but by enforcing a political chill on Chinese campuses Xi risks suppressing precisely the disruptive thinking that the country needs for the future. At times, politics prevails over rational calculations. In 2014, after China had spent years investing in science and technology, the share of its economy devoted to research and development surpassed Europe’s. But, when the government announced the recipients of grants for social-science research, seven of the top ten projects were dedicated to analyzing Xi’s speeches (officially known as “General Secretary Xi’s Series of Important Speeches”) or his signature slogan: the Chinese Dream.

Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New ChinaAge of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China
Evan Osnos


これを機に読みたいなと思っていたAge of Ambitionを読了しました。中身の濃い本で相当エネルギーを使いました。一般の人々を扱ったものかと思ったら、芸術家のAi Weiweiや盲目の弁護士陳 光誠、クレージーイングリッシュの李陽など、日本でも知られた人を大きく扱っていて、政治と賄賂、インターネットと監視など中国の現状を丁寧に取材しています。新幹線事故や正義のサンデル教授が中国でも熱狂的に受け入れられているエピソードなども入っていて、中国に詳しくない人でも読み進められる工夫がなされています。

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 978-0374280741

Evan Osnos vividly depicts the hopefulness and disappointments, clarity, and confusion that we have come to recognize in China’s dazzling drive toward modernization and economic sustainability. With potently spare observations, he introduces the reader to individuals ensnared in a variety of ways in the complexity and contradictions of the country’s evolution. Engrossing and edifying, this book succeeds admirably in answering the question, “What, in the end, is the idea of China?”

In Age of Ambition, Evan Osnos describes the greatest collision taking place in China: the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party’s struggle to retain control. He asks probing questions: Why does a government with more success lifting people from poverty than any civilization in history choose to put strict restraints on freedom of expression? Why do millions of young Chinese professionals—fluent in English and devoted to Western pop culture—consider themselves “angry youth,” dedicated to resisting the West’s influence? How are Chinese from all strata finding meaning after two decades of the relentless pursuit of wealth? Osnos follows the moving stories of everyday people and reveals life in the new China to be a battleground between aspiration and authoritarianism, in which only one can prevail.


Excerpt: 'Age of Ambition' by Evan Osnos
May 22, 2014

Sometimes China is compared to the Japan of the 1980s, when a hundred square feet in downtown Tokyo sold for a million dollars, and tycoons were sipping cocktails over ice cubes shipped from Antarctica. By 1991, Japan was in the largest deflation of assets in the modern history of capitalism. But the similarities run thin; when Japan's bubble burst, it was a mature, developed economy; but China, even overheated, remains a poor country in which the average person earns as much as a Japanese citizen in 1970. At other moments, China's goose- stepping soldiers, its defectors and its dissidents, recall the Soviet Union or even Nazi Germany. But those comparisons are unsatisfying. Chinese leaders do not threaten to "bury" America, the way Khrushchev did, and even China's fiercest nationalists do not seek imperial conquest or ethnic cleansing.

China reminds me most of America at its own moment of transformation- the period that Mark Twain and Charles Warner named the Gilded Age, when "every man has his dream, his pet scheme." The United States emerged from the Civil War on its way to making more steel than Britain, Germany, and France combined. In 1850, America had fewer than twenty millionaires; by 1900 it had forty thousand, some as bumptious and proud as James Gordon Bennett, who bought a restaurant in Monte Carlo after he was refused a seat by the window. As in China, the dawn of American fortune was accompanied by spectacular treachery. "Our method of doing business," said the railway man Charles Francis Adams, Jr., a grandson and great- grandson of presidents, "is founded upon lying, cheating and stealing." Eventually, F. Scott Fitzgerald gave us the slippery tale of James Gatz of North Dakota, who catapulted himself into a new world, in doomed pursuit of love and fortune. When I stood in the light of a new Chinese skyline, I sometimes thought of Gatsby's New York-"always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world."

Chinese leaders do not threaten to "bury" America, the way Khrushchev didの部分は以前ブログ記事で取り上げました。読書を進めるにはいろいろな知識があったほうがいいですね。まえがきの最後が印象的です。西洋と東洋とか、市場主義と社会主義というよりも中国はthe struggle to define the idea of Chinaに取り組んでいるんだ、というところです。

The story of China in the twenty- first century is often told as a contest between East and West, between state capitalism and the free market. But in the foreground there is a more immediate competition: the struggle to define the idea of China. Understanding China requires not only measuring the light and heat thrown off by its incandescent new power, but also examining the source of its energy- the men and women at the center of China's becoming.

実際にNew Yorkerの特派員でいた人だけあって、単純な図式に当てはめていません。例えば、ネットでの監視について、どうしても政府に飼いならされた民衆をイメージしがちですが、むしろ自発的に国家主義的になっている部分もあるようです。proxy serverを使えば政府見解以外のものも見れるのですが、そこまで深入りして真実を追求するよりは、国家主義的メッセージを自らも発信しているというのです。




Michael, by contrast, saw his own life as an epic fable of frustration and triumph. He wrote, “I was extremely lonely and confused from 2002 to 2007. I wanted to be someone great. I didn't want a commonplace life … Was I really destined to be a failure? What should I do? Maybe I was doomed to be an ordinary person.” The prospect of conformity offended him. He wrote, “Why should I be like everyone else, just because I was born to a poor family?”
He framed the study of English as a matter of moral entitlement. He told his students, “You are the master of your destiny. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to be different in this world.”