Perhaps a country’s ability to take a take a punch, shrug off perceived insults and face up to criticism squarely is one of the first signs that a nation had achieved maturity and its people their place at the table of great nations.
Not yet China.
Good fortune, and a marvellous relationship with the English books editor at Random House Kodansha in Tokyo was the reason ‘Fault Lines On The Face Of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never be Great’ was first published in Japan, a country still felt by most Chinese as its greatest enemy.
To actually manufacture an insult to the motherland and the people of China by intentionally publishing our work first in Japan is far beyond our ability and actually bestows upon us a deviousness that is – well – insulting.
We have joined rather good company. Companies such as Starbucks, Deloitte Touche, Toyota and many others have all been tarred with the ‘insulters of China’ brush of shame, usually applied by the government, but sometimes also fostered by highly educated Chinese experts who should have better things to do.
The authors of ‘Fault Lines On The Face of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never Be Great,’ David Marriott and Karl Lacroix, feel the answer harkens back to the opening statement of this piece.
Maturity and subsequent greatness -- both of which China has yet to achieve.
Our book does not attack China. Our book is a warning cry to the Chinese people that failure to achieve greatness is the most likely possibility IF the motherland fails to open its eyes, ears, and heart to its problems....now.
The book details 50. We discovered dozens more. China plays a dangerous game turning one eye towards its obvious successes, while keeping the other eye blind to its failures.
At fault is certainly the government, but more so the very people, the citizens who readily perceive supposed insults but fail to recognize dangerous decay within their society. The Communist Government builds a paper tiger while what the people of China should demand and well-deserve is a real blood and guts dragon.
‘Things are getting better’ or ‘things are changing’ are the standard phrases that must be included within every ‘critical’ article published in the Western Press. Why? Balance. The authors of such articles and indeed the journals publishing them want to be seen as balanced, fair, and moderating.
In FAULT LINES there is no balance. No apologies. No self appointed moderation. In FAULT LINES there are just problems, difficulties, 50 failures that need attention desperately. The authors feel ‘balance’ is a wasted journalistic emotion.
But for this reason the authors have yet to capture an English publishing contract. Western editors who have zero China experience, but an abundance of balancing ability claim it is ‘too critical.’ Their attitude is that the authors’ combined 25 years of China life means nothing, without ‘balance’
For the authors, however, our experience means a unique ability to define, illustrate and detail at least 50 faults within China today, faults that run concurrently, destructively holding back the greatest society to ever have a chance to join man’s march into the future.
For the authors David Marriott and Karl Lacroix, our attitude means loving China enough to shout out a warning, to try to illustrate the plain facts and to tell the truth. The truth as we know it, without false ‘balance.’
While we did write the book with a Western audience in mind, we are very keen that Chinese people should be able to read it too. It would be totally wrong to say we wrote the book for Western people but not for Chinese people.
One of the reasons we have been using the ‘ChinaBounder’ blog as a vehicle to discuss our book is to help generate awareness of it among a wider audience. But we are also very keen that Chinese people should be able to get an idea of the topic of the book. There is no way ‘Fault Lines’ could ever be published in China, and this is our only route to raising the issues we discuss with the people of China.
We are happy to discuss our book with anyone who wishes to comment at firstname.lastname@example.org
Writing the book took over one year, not including thousands of hours of research and hundreds of interviews, ‘Fault Lines’ was carefully and meticulously researched, written and footnoted.
We have made a great deal of use of Chinese media sources. Though the Chinese media is carefully controlled by the government, there is a still a huge amount of valuable information to be gained from it – not just in plentiful facts and figures, but also in attitudes, assumptions and beliefs about what China ‘is.’
We hoped to avoid the charge that we were relying on ‘biased’ Western data and opinion sources by proving each of the 50 Faults with information gleaned from Chinese citizens and media sources. However, for topics such as Tibet and Xinjiang, we did make wider use of international sources, since there is simply no objective reporting on these issues in China.
Currently we are working through ideas for several fact-based novels. All our China themed work must be thoroughly researched, whether fiction or non-fiction. Only the ChinaBounder character takes liberties with reality, but even behind his remarks lurks an element of truth often ignored by the character’s detractors.
Black comedy, satire and risqué humour is not allowed within China when directed towards government leaders and institutions. Sadly most Chinese readers miss the point when trying to digest the comments made on the infamous blog. In more open and perhaps democratic societies, political satire is seen as a safety valve, a way for citizens to jab politicians, and themselves in the ribs to say ‘Hey! Don’t forget, we are watching you.’
Within the book’s title, ‘Fault Lines On The Face of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never Be Great,’ there is a concession, at least within the Japanese edition. We anguished for weeks over the two words ‘may’ and ‘will.’ The word ‘will’ seemed much more negative, more certain and certainly too strongly opinionated against the future. The word ‘will’ seemed to doom China.
In the end we chose the word ‘may’ simply because our work ‘Fault Lines On The Face of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never Be Great’ is a warning, and when giving notice to a people and a country there must be hope.
The last chapter or ‘reason’, number 50, is the most important for China to pay heed to. Entitled ‘The Voice of China’ we ask for the reason that China will give for its existence to the rest of the world. How will China motivate the world? Another great consumer society, preyed upon by megacorporations is not needed. Nor is a ‘harmonious’ society dictated to on a daily basis by an archaic political system.
We ask China to show the world the way into the future, for surely we and the rest of the world have yet to find an answer. Then China will not only be great - it will be the greatest nation of all time
Karl Lacroix Biography:
Karl Lacroix’s arrival in China in the summer of 1992 was for him a dream come true.
Intoxicated as a young boy on the spirit of adventure, Karl found the warmth of the muggy night air of Shanghai filled his need for a ‘new’ land.
In the early nineties, indeed China was the new ‘promised land.’
Karl’s family, directed by the Canadian army, had pulled up stakes and moved across oceans many times, instilling within Karl at a young age a sense of wanderlust that only China has really satiated. An English-born mother and an American-born father gave impetus to a sense of internationalism that formed his character.
Writing came to Karl at an early age, acting as a cub reporter for a local city newspaper in Ontario, Canada. Words became important, not because they were rewarded, but because they generated human reaction.
Now in his late 50s, Karl’s power of observation and experience , combined with a liberal viewpoint, has directed him to voice his ‘protest’ over China’s failure to seek a higher calling than that of being the largest consumer market in the history of the world.
Karl Lacroix expects to live out his life in the most fascinating and compelling area of the world - Asia.
David Marriott Biography:
David Marriott is a collector of fine wines and a voracious reader of books that never leave once they are acquired. The occasional bottle of wine however, disappears without remorse, its preservation within the collection be damned.
His attendance at Oxbridge almost convinced him that a life of academia was his until an opportunity arose that could not be denied – China.
Working as an editor, developing 'free journalism' within a state owned newspaper, for two years David found that in China 'free' means exactly what the government wants it to mean.
Pursuing the family journalism heritage gave David a sense of purpose which was unfortunately limited by rules, regulations and interpretations that were less than logical.
A chance encounter and a quick discussion of a book project provided a different direction and a 'Brotherhood of China' relationship with Karl Lacroix.
David, now in his late thirties, is an avid linguist and has managed to learn to speak, read and write enough Chinese to avert the potentially disastrous situations both Karl and David seem to find themselves occasionally.
David Marriott's life will continue within Asia, so deep has the influence of his present life in China been. The Brotherhood of China has tales to reveal and truths to expose on a journey that will continue book after book.
-The comments and material above have been prepared by Karl Lacroix.
Please feel free to contact us with any more questions or expansions on the ideas that have presented.