April 24, 2012
#Tiananmen survivor: Biography cum propaganda
A Heart for Freedom: The Remarkable Journey of a Young Dissident, Her Daring Escape, and Her Quest to Free China's Daughters by Chai Ling
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The first 4/5 of the book was great, but the last 1/5 clearly jumped the shark.
I have no problem with Chai talking about specific spinoffs of her conversion to Christianity, since that's part of her biography. I'm not so OK with her equating forced abortions for gender in China with all abortions, for serious medical issues even, in the U.S. But, that's a belief that's part of her conservative evangelical conversion. So, it's not the shark-jumping, yet.
Her belief that China must become a "Jesus fearing" nation before democracy can take root. Tosh. Piddle. Or bullshit. And, one empirically refuted.
A very Chinese, very democratic (and capitalist), prosperous, QUITE non-Christian Taiwan sits across the Straits of Formosa from China.
1. A very democratic, very prosperous, majority non-Christian South Korea almost borders China.
2. A very democratic, very prosperous, almost totally non-Christian Japan sits across the Sea of Japan.
3. A semi-democratic, very non-Christian, growingly prosperous Thailand is also in Southeast Asia.
If that's not enough to refute Chai Ling:
A (messily) democratic, not-yet-prosperous, very much non-Christian India has been democratic since its independence.
So, the shark was jumped there.
Related to that, we hear zero, zip, bupkis about what her dad, sister and brother think about her conversion.
I also noticed, by this point, that post-exile, there's almost no print given to fellow Tianamen student leaders who were successful in some way post-exile, rather than those who made peace with Beijing or else couldn't hack it abroad. And, there are other such people.
Result? It's hard not to think of this as half propaganda, half biography. And, having just written that, my review goes down another star. If we had half stars, I'd do 2.5, but I can't give it a full three.
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