For those who dont like jumping into a novel in the middle, and who are intimidated by the large number of chapters already written, heres a review of The Chinese Century so far.
Consider this another invitation to join the fun.
The book is a fiction based on real trends of the present day the falling dollar, an American obsession with Arabs, and a rising tide of intolerance realized in the 2004 election.
The story opens with a meeting, between the U.S. ambassador to China and the Chinese foreign minister, on November 29. (The picture in the Table of Contents is an aerial view of Beijing's Forbidden City.) A misunderstanding occurs. The minister expresses concern over the falling dollar. The ambassador reads a threat to Taiwan.
George Soros responds by shorting the dollar against the Chinese Yuan, and China takes the opportunity to let the Yuan, which it calls Renminbi, float. U.S. markets collapse and China defends the new rate, which is half the current fixed rate of about 8 Yuan to the dollar.
When Russia follows-up by accepting Euros for its oil, de-coupling from the dollar, the Administration responds with beligerance. A carrier group rushes to defend Taiwan and the U.S. ambassador is called in, where Chinas leaders tell him the strong Yuan will be defended but China will take no military action.
The effects of all this are catastrophic, as Alan Greenspan quickly realizes the U.S. has no allies. Interest rates must rise, which will sink the real estate market. Soros is delighted, and Greenspan gets a call from Chinas Finance Minister, again counseling peace. Greenspan relays this to the White House and urges a quick summit in Beijing. The President agrees.
Meanwhile, Virgin billionaire Richard Branson has hatched a plan to take advantage of the chaos. Along with Dallas Maverick owner Mark Cuban (and sociologist Richard Florida) they acquire major blocks in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa, and plan an exile for Americas Creative Class, both liberals and economic pirates. Cuban explores Joburg (that's downtown Johannesburg at night, from the Table of Contents), becomes fired with the possibilities, and is presented by Branson as the group's spokesman at a press conference. The two are able to secure billions in start-up capital from speculators made wealthy by the dollars fall.
Chinese President Hu Xintao seeks advice from his predecessor, Jiang Zemin He suggests a news conference, emphasizing Chinas desire for peace and stability. Jiang, meanwhile, goes into Afghanistan as hostage for a guest who, he hopes, will broker a just peace.
Meanwhile the effects of all this change are hitting the U.S. economy like a tsunami. FNMA chair Franklin Raines sees it and CNBC anchor Keith Olbermann gets the story. The impact starts hitting Atlanta in the form of a real estate collapse and a withdrawal of venture capital.
The Bush trip to Beijing illustrates differences between the present situation and that of 1972, especially the two nations power relationship. The Summit ends in chaos, with Bush shooting the guest Jiang risked his life to bring to Beijing.
Cuban, knowing he cant front the Johannesburg effort, goes to Nantucket to recruit a replacement spokesman. The Chinese guest is returned, cured of his kidney trouble, in order to recover Jiang Zemin. Chinas finance minister is sent onto a U.S. TV show to once again counsel peace.
Meanwhile, back in Atlanta, a protest against lay-offs turns violent and Bush voters react in horror. The villain of the piece, Karl Rove (sorry, Karl, someone has to be the heavy), is forced to kill a weak sister and seek power himself.
When voters from all sides meet to protest, martial law is declared and they are dispersed. (That's downtown Atlanta, again from the Table of Contents.)
China moves to make a separate peace with Taiwan (and Jiang Zemin reveals the underlying plot of the whole piece) while Greenspan demands the President act to save the economy, regardless of the pain it might cause. A pre-Christmas crime wave begins in Atlanta and, on Christmas itself, an effort by the authors family to give comfort is foiled.
Thats it so far. Where does it go from here? I really dont know. I do know that while events are not unfolding as dramatically as I foresaw them here, they are moving in the direction Ive given.