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December 29, 2009 in The China Beat


Copyright December 29, 2009. Used by permission.


China Beat has been faithfully following James Fallows’s reports for the Atlanticfrom first Shanghai and now Beijing since he moved to China in 2006. His reports have covered topics from China’s international image to the financial crisis to theGreat Firewall, and he blogs regularly at the Atlantic‘s website. Fallows’s reports have now been gathered together in a collection, Postcards from Tomorrow Square, that will be available for purchase tomorrow. Over email, Fallows chatted with Kate Merkel-Hess about the new book and his thoughts about reporting from China.

Kate Merkel-Hess: Your forthcoming book Postcards from Tomorrow Square is a collection of essays about China that cover some of the same topics you have touched on in your writings for the Atlantic over the past two years. One of the overarching themes you mention in your introduction is the diversity and variety in China—something you say you suspected before coming to China in 2006 but that was confirmed for you as you did your reporting. What other China myths are most in need of debunking, and which did you have the most fun exploding in the book?

James Fallows: I know that for a lot of people based in China, or who have far deeper familiarity with China than I do, my emphasis on the diversity and individuality of modern Chinese life could seem obvious, or banal. It might also seem that way to people with no China experience at all. One American with whom I was talking recently said, “Well, of course, every human being is an individual.”