This year’s Adelaide Writers’ Week welcomed Ms Zha Jianying (查建英), a renowned Chinese author and journalist, personal advisor to President Barack Obama, and the China representative of the India China Institute (New York). Her most recent publication, ‘Tide Players – The Movers and Shakers of a Rising China’, was discussed.
‘Tide Players’ is a collection of six portraits of people – ‘Movers and Shakers’, which, Zha Jianying says, are leading players at the forefront of China’s current society. They are entrepreneurs and intellectuals who have transformed China and therefore stand out, each in their own way and with their individual stories and tragedies, including the author’s own brother, a dissident, who spent time in jail. Another portrait is that of Wang Meng, a former Minister of Culture who also is a famous writer.
The title of the book ‘Tide Players’ is a metaphor for persons ‘who ride the tide’ for their cause, hoping to succeed. They can, however, also fail, yet each of them do decide to act despite the knowledge of the potential risks involved. The expression ‘Tide Players’ is taken from a 11th century poem which describes the famous seasonal tidal bore of the Qiantang river 钱塘江in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.
The portraits offered in the book have several things in common, even if their stories are very different. One common element is the fact that all of them either are originally from Beijing or have moved there. The other common element is that they all have suffered in the past (or still do at present) and have started new lives with modest means.
‘Tidal Players – The Movers and Shakers’ promises to be a fascinating read for anybody interested in present day China.