The Great Reversal is the first critical study of the widely heralded reforms currently transforming China’s economy. From his long experience in Chinese agriculture, Hinton first examines the course of agricultural reform over the past decade, then looks at its consequences in different areas of the countryside and considers its implications for the country as a whole. He raises troubling questions about China’s capitalist future—the growing landlessness, increasing inequality, and above all, the destruction of the nation’s natural resources and the collectively built infrastructure that was the great achievement of the revolution. In so doing he sheds new light on the sources of discontent behind the demonstrations that culminated in the Tiananmen massacre of June 1989.
Recognized inside and outside China as an expert on the country’s agriculture, Hinton spent five or six months there every year but one since 1978, when the wave of reform was first introduced. He witnessed the events of June 1989 first hand. This experience gives authority to an analysis that digs deeper and more widely than anything else available. His essays open up a new perspective on Mao and his successors, one that has been totally obscured by the Western media.