China’s recent political history has taken place at breakneck speed. A historic economic transformation, the consolidation of centralized power not seen since Mao, and the eager but then later truculent participation in the global economy. How do we measure this progress and its costs, and how do we measure its shortcomings?
The numbers matter, and they are rarely presented at face value. This is the point of the most recent book by Jeremy Lee Wallace, “Seeking Truth and Hiding Facts: Information, Ideology, and Authoritarianism in China.” Wallace argues that China’s system of excessive control has created numerous statistical distortions which lead to numerous blind spots.
These blind spots only seem to be expanding in recent years. In his discussion with host Robert Amsterdam, Wallace talks about how Xi’s responses have only made it worse with “aggressive anti-corruption campaigns, reassertion of party authority, and personalization of power–is an attempt fix the problems of the prior system, as well as a hedge against an inability to do so.”