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about The People's Republic of Hong Kong
The characters encountered in The People’s Republic of Hong Kong chronicle, like no other book, the China the world confronts today. The stories arrive in the form of narratives and oral histories and are rooted in the “guerrilla journalism” of Louis “Studs” Terkel, the 20th century American author who used an enthusiastic yet gentle interviewing style to elicit, in rich detail, the experiences and thoughts of citizens about the state of America and its world. The writing here does the same for 21st century China. It captures life in Hong Kong through protest and pandemic and reveals how the social contract Beijing has assembled to govern its people operates. To get rich in China is still glorious, to borrow Deng Xiaoping’s famous phrase. But wealth and success can be chased only within a framework of uncontested Communist Party authority. In the end, the arrangement traps citizens on a proverbial gerbil wheel of self-awareness and vigilance, lest someone somewhere in the firmament of power takes notice or umbrage. Writes Riley: “If Hong Kong in the wake of protest and Covid teaches anything, it might be how subtly the ascendancy of China’s oligarchs and their bureaucratic attendants can arrive — how soft-footed their appearance at your apartment can be.”