I am an avid Gordon Chang fan. He has a consistent lens–China is going to hell in a hand basket–though which he analyses events in China. This makes him a useful corrective to us China bulls.
That said, I am hard-pressed to think of any time I have agreed with even one of his analyses. Yet I always gain value in considering positions (that are not just whacky–and Gordon isn’t) that are very far from my own, as Gordon’s are. (That’s why I try to watch Fox News, Gordon’s stomping grounds, on U.S. politics–for as long as I can take it.)
Gordon and I haven’t met, but we have an off and on penpal relationship. From all I know about Gordon, I like him, especially that he has no problem sending up his own obsession. Here’s a current shot of his ‘other’ Twitter account:
Even if you don’t agree with him, how do you not like this guy?
So when I read ‘Gordon G. Chang: The coming collapse of X in China’ in the Shanghiist, I thought the author was pretty harsh:
Gordon G. Chang wrote a book in 2001 called the The Coming Collapse of China, in which he predicted that China’s financial system and communist government would collapse by 2006 (note: this did not happen). Despite being wrong about most everything he’s ever predicted, Chang has made a career as harbinger of the Chinapocalypse and possesses the marvelous talent of turning any news about China into a sign that the economy is about to implode and CCP leaders be strung up on Tian’anmen Square.
That [a list of Gordon's doom and gloom articles] was just from 2012, Chang has been determinedly predicting “The Coming Collapse of X in China” for almost a decade, and despite him being consistently wrong, right-wing Western media outlets continue to commission articles from him.
If being right is the sole criterion of being worth listening to, then consider ‘The Perils of Predicting Chinese Politics,’ by M. Taylor Fravel, in The Diplomat:
That summer ['before the last major leadership turnover back in 2002 at the 16th Party Congress'], two respected scholars, Andrew Nathan and Bruce Gilley, published a book that predicted precisely who would be placed on the standing committee, their protocol (or rank) order, and what positions they would hold. They based their forecast on internal party dossiers about the candidates that had been leaked to a writer in Hong Kong.
And, oops, they got it mostly wrong. Doesn’t stop me from hanging on every word about China that Dr. Nathan writes.
Now, I realize that Drs. Nathan and Gilley were aiming for academic objectivity, a careful weighing and analysis of the facts uncovered. And, I realize that this is very nearly opposite of Gordon Chang’s project of selecting and interpreting facts to support his particular hobby horse.
That’s okay. For me, trying to understand and predict events in China is a matter of triangulation (if only there were just three points), of considering widely differing views on any issue. For this, Gordon Chang is a good and useful point, if a rather distant one from me, in that process.
And, I’ll stand watch with him to discern those subtle cracks that portend doom for China. ‘The collapse is coming, I swear!’ Someday, Gordon, someday.